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Atlas, G. (2012). Sex and the Kitchen: Thoughts on Culture and Forbidden Desire. Psychoanal. Perspect., 9(2):220-232.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 9(2):220-232


Sex and the Kitchen: Thoughts on Culture and Forbidden Desire

Galit Atlas, PhD

God created sexual desire in ten parts; then he gave nine parts to women and one to men.

—Ali ibn Abu Taleb(the fourth leader of the Islamic

world after Muhammad)

The Kitchen

The house in Tehran smelled of jasmine, the same scent that my grandma brought with her wherever she went throughout the years. Behind the olive tree, a path led to six low-rise houses that surrounded a large courtyard. Each extended family had these houses, where the Great Mother lived with her sons, their wives, and their children, as well as her unmarried daughters. When the daughters got married, they moved in with their husbands in their extended families' homes. The courtyard was the children's kingdom, where all of the cousins would meet daily near the fishpond. The house's most important structure—the kitchen—stood in the middle of the courtyard, a common kitchen that was shared by all the families, though only women were allowed entry.

What is the relation between the kitchen and forbidden desire? The first sin involved food and sexuality, when Eve seduced Adam into eating the apple. Preoccupation with food, then, is about not only body image but also what we are allowed to take into our bodies and what we are not—desires and prohibitions. Referring to food, Janice Lieberman says, “This is where the erotic is, and this is where the forbidden is.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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