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Chapter 4: Gastronomy as a tourist product: the perspective of gastronomy studies
Gastronomy also brings our minds to what's really important. Michael Symons
INTRODUCTION This chapter introduces the conceptual tools of trans-disciplinary gastronomy studies into tourism research and planning. This newly emerging perspective does not replace but complements those provided by the many disciplinesstudying food and culture, food and society, food and marketing. Gastronomy studies is an answer to the urgent need for research evaluating performances, identifying inadequacies, efficiencies and potential improvements in the gastronomic life of communities. Research with this innovative conceptual framework and methodology focus on how these communities can evolve socially and economically,keeping an eco-nutritional commitment to environmental sustainability and the optimal health of the community. In this context, both general and gastronomic tourism, and their impact on the life of communities represent a challenging issue for gastronomy studies. This is certainly an unconventional approach because until now gastronomy has been seen as a topic of tourism research and not vice versa.The paper is divided in two parts. In the first part there is an analysis of the concept of gastronomy and an overview of some among the most relevant aspects of the framework and methodology of gastronomy studies. Since this is one of the first occasions on which gastronomy studies is presented, there is an emphasis on this part. The second part instead is devoted to the analysis of tourism issueswith the trans-disciplinary perspective of gastronomy studies. They are issues related to the necessity of gastronomic imagination in tourism planning, to the points of contact between tourism research and gastronomy studies, and to tourism as a topic of research focusing on sustainable gastronomy. The concluding remarks identify some practical steps for the immediate future. GASTRONOMY ASREFLECTIVE COOKING AND EATING Two hundred years ago the word gastronomy made its first appearance, in France, as a title of a poem published by Jacques Berchoux (1804). Despite the immense popularity attained by the word since then, gastronomy, the object of gastronomy studies, is still ‘devilishly difficult to define’ (Santich 1996a:1). Whilst the origins of the word are undisputed, in ancient Greekgastros was the stomach and nomos the law, its meanings remain only loosely related to the literal translation of the etymon. The broad spectrum of definitions can be reduced into two main categories with overlapping and blurred borders. On the one hand, gastronomy is simply related to the enjoyment of the very best in food and drink. On the other, it is a far-reaching discipline that encompasseseverything into which food enters, including all things we eat and drink. Gastronomy studies pertains to the second category of definitions and particularly to a comprehensive gastronomy implying ‘reflective eating’ (Santich 1996b:180), which however it expands to reflective cooking and food preparation as well, maintaining the association with excellence and/or fancy food and drink. Thereforegastronomy studies is related to the production of food, and the means by which foods are produced; the political economy; the treatment of foods, their storage and transport and processing; their preparation and cooking; meals and manner; the chemistry of food, digestion and the physiological effects of food; food choices and customs and traditions... (Santich 1996b:2) There is a lack of historicalresearch on the formation of gastronomy as reflective eating and cooking. Archestratus (1994) from Gela (Sicily), who lived in the fourth century BC, is among the first authors who shaped an idea of such a gastronomy. His work The Art of High Living has been often translated as Gastronomia, a non-existent word at that time. Yet Archestratus' Hedypatheia (the pleasure of taste) was mainly concerned...
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