Extra Credit: David Szanto “Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Science”/Jasmine Huynh

Last Friday evening, David Szanto gave a lecture at the California NanoSystems Institute about the University of Gastronomic Science. This university was founded by a non-profit organization called Slow Food which was established in 1989. Slow Food is on a mission to counteract fast food in a fast-paced lifestyle. According to them, food should be “good, clean and fair.” This motto means that food should taste good, be free of pesticides and available at a fair price for both the consumer and the supplier. Slow Food LA is one of the largest chapters in this organization.

David Szanto, the presenter, is currently the North American representative for the University of Gastronomic Science. He is currently situated in Montreal, Canada, so this was a special presentation that he had to fly out for. He started the presentation by explaining exactly what “gastronomy” is. The word has multiple meanings, depending on who you ask.  The literal meaning of the word is “the rules of the stomach.” But, when taken to different countries, it means different things. For example, to Americans it means the art of writing about culture and food. To the French, it describes the link between culture and food.

The bulk of his presentation was spent discussing the benefits of attending the University, and how it was started. The University itself is located in Italy. It was founded in 2003 by Slow Food and several other Italian regional food companies. Szanto went through the various programs that are offered at the University, and always made it clear that they were using local products and events. He also wanted to emphasize the significance of the program, and made sure to highlight the major events that the University participates in.

Overall, I felt that this presentation was more of a sales pitch for the University rather than an informative lecture about how the Slow Food movement could be helpful. I could only find minimal relationship between the lecture and this class. The one aspect that was similar was the fact that “gastronomy” means several different things to different people. Similarly, art doesn’t have one exact definition. The presentation would have been much more enjoyable had it focused more on describing the aspects and benefits of Slow Food, rather than trying to force enrollement into the University.

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