The Crispy and the Crunchy

Justin E. H. Smith in his blog:

6a00d83453bcda69e20192ac54361f970d-350wiIn his 1957 structuralist masterpiece, Le croustillant et le gluant, the French anthropologist Jean-Robert Klein argued that the fundamental binary distinction through which the savage mind filters the world is that between the crispy and the chewy. The first and primary domain of application of these concepts is of course the alimentary one, but in primitive cultures, he argued, the crispy and the chewy are often projected from there into the cosmos as a whole. In his own fieldwork among the Yanomamö of Brazil, he showed in more than a few elaborate diagrams that, for them, men, rubber trees, the color green, the East, vipers, and butterflies are held to be ‘crispy’, while women, black, jaguars, the North, the stars, and ground foliage are in turn ‘chewy’.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Klein’s former student, Françoise Pombo, argued in a series of influential publications that her mentor had failed to notice something of great importance. What he was actually in the process of discovering, she claimed, was a tripartite schema, in which the crunchy [le croquant] was to be sharply distinguished from both the crispy and the chewy.

More here.