The Study of Gastronomy: A Catalyst for Cultural Understanding

By Barbara Santich.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The study of gastronomy, with its focus on the how, what and why of eating and drinking, necessarily draws upon the complete spectrum of the humanities as well as the social and natural sciences. While gastronomy necessarily refers to food and drink - all that sustains us, in the words of Brillat-Savarin - what is more important is their place in human societies and the norms, explicit or implicit, which are understood and accepted by the culture in which they originate and which apply to such concepts as mealtimes and contents of meals, to the values associated with foods, and to the ways foods are produced, prepared, cooked and served. Precisely because it ranges so broadly, the study of gastronomy has a privileged position in communicating the characteristics of a culture; it is not only a means to learning about others but also about ourselves, both as individuals and as part of a group. In studying the broad field of gastronomy, students have the opportunity to explore the broad spectrum of the humanities, from literature and history to philosophy, religion, communication and politics.

Keywords: Gastronomy, Humanities, Interdisciplinarity, Human Culture, Teaching, Learning

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.53-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 556.229KB).

Dr. Barbara Santich

Program Manager, Graduate Program in Gastronomy, School of History & Politics, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Barbara Santich is a culinary historian with a particular interest in the foods and cuisines of both Australia and France, and the author of six books including In the Land of the Magic Pudding: A Gastronomic Miscellany (2000). With both B.Sc. and BA degrees she recognises the importance of multidisciplinary reaearch, and applied this in her PhD study of the mediaeval cuisines of Mediterranean Europe. Having designed the gastronomy program at the University of Adelaide and developed the associated teaching and learning materials, she now manages the program which attracts students from around the world, both on-campus and online. In 2007 she is collaborating with staff from the University's Creative Writing programs to offer a Graduate Certificate in Food Writing.

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