This article analyses the cultural dynamics of hunger and of food-related practices and experiences among the aLuund of southwestern Zaire. The Luunda data show that perceptions and attitudes towards food and hunger are much more than the expression of nutritional deprivation. It is argued that hunger is viewed as the physical and cosmological equivalent of disruptive reloationships in the social field. When 'hunger goes around the land', it circulates from village to village in a movement that runs counter to the life-giving circulation of food and women in marriage transactions. Hunger is also a transformational idiom which allows for the redefinition of social anomie by opening up the self-reproducing matrilineal cycle into wider processes of social reproduction and extended social reciprocity.