What is gastronomy? What is it about food that fascinates readers so immensely, making audiences eager to digest every delectable detail? To link the two concepts, I offer a simple analogy of food and gastronomy. Food is the brick, culture and history are the mortar in building the edible sanctuary that is Gastronomy. Stated clearly, Gastronomy is a multileveled, interdisciplinary, interpersonal, and active way to approaching subjects of food, cooking, and most importantly eating.
But! There is an important disconnect here to be explored. While food and cooking traditions have been a part of our global society since the invention of the wheel, gastronomy, comparatively, is an innovation that has begun to take our society by storm relatively recently. Though initially the notion of gastronomy was thought to be limited to the ‘high culture,’ those that could afford expensive ingredients who had the time to care, there has been a sharp change in the definition and access to the term.
What sparked this change? Aside from various cooking shows that have popularized this post-modern interest in food and culinary culture to the general public, the vast accessibility of the internet has given gastronomy its true ‘facelift’, allowing anyone and everyone to discuss their personal recipes, food opinions, restaurant reviews, and general shared excitement for eating. This limitless forum has taken over the blogosphere, making food blogs an incredibly fun and easy way to spread the word on the world of gastronomy.
Serious Eats (www.seriouseats.com) is an American food blog that I have been following for some time. The website advertises itself as both a food blog and a community which is a true and important detail about the site. Rather than being just one author, the site allows readers to interactively contribute their ideas, recipes, food photos, and reviews which has truly helped the site grow over the years. Though this is an example of a more sophisticated food blog, directed for those living in metropolitan areas, it is a great resource to discover new restaurants and recipes from users just like myself as well as professionals.
Conversely, This Is Why You’re Fat (www.thisiswhyyourefat.com) is a completely different type of food blog, and definitely not for the faint of stomach. Unlike Serious Eats, which celebrates food for its diversity and cultural importance, This Is Why Youre Fat is a blog that bastardizes food through disgustingly unhealthy food concoctions. Despite the some of the stomach wrenching images, the website has seen great success, and has even published a book full of the calorific delights. An important detail to note is that This Is Why You’re Fat is based entirely off user contributions to the website, making it an interactive and communal experience.
The contrast in the aforementioned websites shows the interesting juxtaposition in our society’s approach to food and gastronomy within the microcosm of the internet, though these opinions are not limited to the virtual world. Gastronomy has become the world to describe all food-related fascinations, not simply those directed to those with time and money. The evolution of this concept has been catalyzed by popular media, and will continue to grow with increased access to these media sources. Eating is an activity in which everyone in society participates, therefore, we can all connect in someway with this deepened interest in the multi-faceted study of food that is gastronomy.
And then of course, according to Wikipedia, Gastronomy is….