Slow Food extra credit by Khoa Truong-N

Since when has gastronomy become a career choice?  Well, according to David Szanto, gastronomy is an emerging field in not only Europe but the United States as well.  To gain a better understanding of what gastronomy is though, we need to first examine what exactly the word “gastronomy” means.  “Gastro” is interpreted as “stomach” while  “nomos” means “law”, so literally translated, gastronomy means “stomach law”.  So now that we know what gastronomy in terms of language, we need to look at the word from an ideological perspective.  According to Szanto, gastronomy can also be thought of as gourmet food, a meal that is the direct result of meticulous detail and relentless effort.  This is where Slow Food comes in.  Like its name implies, Slow Food is the exact opposite of fast food, it is a counter to the mass-produced, processed, canned and frozen foods that society has come to eat on a daily basis.  Slow Food also acts as a reminder that food is part of the environment and shouldn’t be tampered with too much.  Society has come to associate the word “fast” with the idea “good”, and Slow Food attempts to slow down this acceleration of human existence by providing food that is best enjoyed being eaten over a long period of time.
Slow Food has been in existence for a while now, and I have even had the chance to attend of their events in San Francisco last summer.  It was an interesting experience to say the least; all the food was completely naturally without any chemical enhancements.  The food was as good as it looked and smelled that day although a meal could be quite pricey.  It was encouraging to see hundreds of people of the fair, trying the next generation of healthy foods.  This is what Slow Food has been trying to do over the past years, educate the masses about the importance of a good home-cooked meal.  This is why Slow Food helped co-found the University of Gastronomic Sciences.  Each year, the university trains a number of students to become gastronomes.  At this 3-4 year university, students will travel all throughout Europe to literally learn the science of food.  After this period in time, they will either have the option to either leave the university to educate others in gastronomy or stay for another couple of years to further their education.  Overall, I think that this is a good idea, especially for American citizens since they would have the opportunity to study and travel all over Europe.
Although I felt that at the lecture Szanto was promoting the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the lecture was still somewhat interesting.  However, I found it a little strange that some restaurants that sell the type of food Szanto mentioned for hundreds of dollars per meal.  I understand that this type of food takes time and effort to make, but for someone to say that food is a “common language and universal right” and then make meals that only the wealthy could afford is in a little hypocritical in a way.  Don’t get me wrong though, I appreciate what the Slow Food movement is fighting for, but I just don’t think that they should state that everyone has the right to a meal and then cater only to people with the money to pay for expensive gourmet meals.  Overall though, the idea of having a university devoted solely to gastronomy is noteworthy and has the potential for spreading Slow Food awareness.

-Khoa Truong-N

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