The Culinary Triangle


Dublin Core


The Culinary Triangle


Levi Strauss: The Culinary Triangle and Food as Language


According to linguists, for every language the fundamental opposition is that between consonant and vowel. In all languages, there is a complex system of phonemes that elaborate the contrast between the vowel and the consonant. This gives us the vowel triangle: A U I and the consonant triangle: K P T. This methodological principle is transposable to other domains such as cooking. If we consider language a universal form of human activity, as there is no society without language, then that can be applied to cooking as their is not a society that does not cook in some manner

The triangle of cooking would be: Raw, Cooked, and Rotten. Raw is the food in its natural state, cooked is the cultural transformation of the raw, and rotten is the natural transformation of the food. These are all defined by groups based on elaborated/unelaborated or culture/nature. These can not teach us anything about cooking in a specific society but can only tell us what each means in a society which is not always the same. This compares to language because just like with these definitions of food there is an abstract definition of each of the triangles within each language. This model, as can the vowel and consonant model to include more letter, can be elaborated to include other aspects of cooking such as frying, grilling, oven-roasting, seasoning, steaming, etc. Essentially, the cooking of a society is a language in which it unconsciously translates its structure and its contradictions


Aubrey Moreira





Aubrey Moreira, “The Culinary Triangle,” Food&Culture, accessed May 12, 2021,

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