The taste of war
The meaning of food to New Zealand and Australian nurses far from home in World War I, 1915–18
in Histories of nursing practice
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In World War I, contingents of nurses from New Zealand and Australia served overseas, far from home. This chapter is a cultural history of the meaning of food to New Zealand and Australian nurses as they struggled, coped and tried to make sense of their wartime experiences. The taste of war was just one aspect of the nurses' embodied experience, but was a strong feature of their letters and diaries. The nurses' letters convey the role that food played in their lives and its complex connotations in their embodied experience of war half a world away from home. Food was the taste of discontent when it signified deprivation, and contamination, and when it reminded them of the loss of home and their temporary relinquishment of a civilised world. The taste of war was nourishing food that signified caring and comfort, respite, celebration, and a strong connection with home and family.


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