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My most memorable meal ever: hospitality as an emotional experience

Lashley, C. and Morrison, A.J. and Randall, S. (2003) My most memorable meal ever: hospitality as an emotional experience. In: Culinary Taste: Consumer Behaviour in the Restaurant Industry. Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism . Butterworth - Heinemann, pp. 165-184. ISBN 0750657677

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Abstract

The focus of this chapter is on social, as opposed to convenience, eating. This basic distinction is made by Cullen (1994), who suggests that social eating must fulfil certain social functions for it to be successful. The meal experience investigated, therefore, involves more than snacks, 'grazing' activities, 'refuelling', or those with ulterior motives such as business lunches (Lashley, 2000). It engages with the special and memorable occasion, providing insights into aspects concerned with emotions and inherent social dynamics. Meal occasions may be regarded both as an 'object' displaying structure and form as well as an 'event' with physiological, psychological and sociological components (Douglas, 1975), and are recognizable in that they tend to be associated with their cyclical appearance in the household and with social events (Mitchell, 1999). In this respect, Gillespie and Morrison (2001) suggest that consumption holds symbolic emotional value associated with rites of passage, such as graduation, wedding or funeral. Thus, this chapter incorporates sociological perspectives in drawing on the points of view of young consumers of hospitality, and delves into their emotions, associated social practices and value systems. Specifically, it progresses knowledge through an appreciation of the place and composition of a sociable and memorable meal experience within their lives as a structured object that represents a symbolic and emotional event, as supported by Warde and Martens (1998).