Gastronomy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gastronomy (From Greek γαστρονομία)[1] ) is the study of the relationship of man with his diet and his environment or surroundings. Gourmet is the person who takes care of this science. It is often mistakenly thought that the term gastronomy only has relation to the culinary art and the cutlery around a table. However, this is a small part of the field of study of this discipline: it cannot always be said that a cook is a gourmet. Gastronomy studies various cultural components taking as its central axis the food.

Ancient Rome

In the Ancient Rome la kitchen evolved from the frugality of the time republican, based on vegetables, vegetables y cereals, to the wealth of the time imperial, where many foods were imported from foreign countries, with great influence from greek cuisine. The Romans practiced the poultry farming and the piscicultureas well as the elaboration of Sausages, and perfected the techniques related to wine and oil. They used to cook with spices y aromatic herbs, and they liked the mix of sweet and salty. They also gave great importance to the presentation of food and the ceremonial act of eating, being famous the lavish banquets organized by the rich and noble Romans. Likewise, there were numerous writers who studied the art of kitchenAs Luculus y Marco Gavio Apicius, author of the famous recipe book Apitii Celii de Re Coíritu libri decem, highly valued in the Renaissance.[2]

Middle Ages

Heirs of the kitchen Greek and Roman were the Byzantine and the Arabic: the first one highlighted his confectioneryas well as the elaboration of cheese and the taste for fillings and the mince; the second included all the previous influences, together with those derived from Persia and the East, while Spain (Al Andalus) developed new agricultural products, such as rice sugar cane pomegranate and the eggplant. The kitchen Arabic greatly influenced the medieval gastronomy, combined with the rich Greco-Roman tradition. Despite the times of intense famine, gastronomy was highly valued in the Middle Ages, and gastronomic literature was greatly developed, with treatises such as The Forme of Cury, written by the cook of Richard II of England; Daz Buch von Guter Spise, anonymous work published in Germany; Le Viandier, from French Guillaume Tirel, nicknamed Taillevent; Y Coch Free, the Catalan Robert de Nola.[3]

Renacimiento

In the Renaissance, classical culture was revitalized, with gastronomy reaching high levels of refinement and sophistication. Venetian cuisine stood out, which thanks to its trade with the East favored the import of all kinds of spices: pepper, mustard, saffron, nutmeg, nail, cinnamon, etc. A determining factor for a new gastronomy was the discovery of America, from where new foods such as corn potato, the tomato, the cacao, Beans, the peanut, the pepper vanilla pineapple, the avocado, the mango, the tobacco, etc. In the Baroque period the French gastronomy, which acquired high levels of quality which it still enjoys today. The cultivation of culinary arts in France was favored by the Bourbon, especially for Louis XIV, monarch of great palate; however, these culinary delights were reserved for the aristocracy, while the majority of the population used to go hungry. Among the gastronomic treatises of the time it is worth highlighting that of Spanish Francisco Martínez Montiño, Titulado Kitchen art, pastry, biscuit and canning (1611).[4]

Modern age

The French Revolution marked a turning point in European gastronomy, which spread at the popular level, being a common heritage of all social classes, and not just the privileged ones. The restaurants, the use of canned food (a process favored by the Industrial Revolution) spread, and gastronomic literature proliferated, not only in simple recipes, but in works of research and dissemination, of theory and essay, such as Physiology of taste de Brillat-Savarin (1826), or Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine de Alexandre Dumas (1873); Gastronomic criticism also appeared then, with publications such as Michelin Guide. In the XNUMXth century, the canning industry and the preparation of precooked foods have had special relevance, as well as the trend towards fast food (with products like burgers y frankfurts) and prepared for microwave oven. Conversely, a new concern has emerged for healthy and balanced foods, which have favored the emergence of new products that highlight their nutritional qualities. It is also worth noting the revaluation of regional cuisine, favored by the advance of means of transport and the rise of tourism, which led to the return to a natural and simple kitchen, a fact that marked the starting point of the nouvelle cuisine, which combines tradition and simplicity with new developments and a certain desire for innovation and experimentation.[5] As relevant cooks, the following could be mentioned: Auguste Escoffier, Joel Robuchon, Paul Bocuse, Heston Blumenthal, Donato de Santis, Karlos Arguiñano, Juan Maria Arzak, Sumito Estévez, Ferran Adrià, Santi Santamaría, etc.[6]

Contemporary age

When we talk about the origins of contemporary cuisine, we all think of France and generally of the Nouvelle Cuisine of the 60s of the XNUMXth century. We rarely understand that this culinary movement would not be possible without a complete renovation, a radical change of conception, which took place in the XNUMXth century and in the early XNUMXth century. But even when we do, there is a name that comes to mind above any other: Auguste Escoffier, the creator of a new way of understanding the culinary as a business, of managing the restaurant and hundreds of recipes that today are considered French classics and international haute cuisine.
It is true that Escoffier had the immense luck of being able to combine his unquestionable genius for the kitchen with the advances of his time, especially in terms of conservation and transportation of raw materials, which allowed him to work on land that had previously been unthinkable. But it is no less true that all those achievements supported by the advances of his time cannot be understood without the precedent, much less known but at least as transcendental, of Antonin Careme, undoubtedly the key figure in the passage of the kitchen of the ancient contemporary regime.
Furthermore, Careme is such a hopelessly French character that he could even go through a caricature in which topics are mixed with characters from novels by Victor Hugo. Perhaps the veneration for his figure in the neighboring country comes from there.
As I was saying, everything in Careme's life is more typical of a nineteenth-century drama than what may seem real to us: born in a humble neighborhood on the banks of the Seine and in the midst of between 15 and 25 brothers (depending on the sources), his father, a longshoreman, took him to eat at a tavern when he was ten years old. And right there, after explaining how hard life is and the family's troubles, he left him. In a short time he was already working as a marmiton (I suppose we could translate it as a click) in the La Fricasee du Lapin tavern and before the age of 16 he was already famous in Paris for his skills, to such an extent that at that age he was hired by Chez Bailly France's best-known pastry chef. In his workshop he specialized in confectionery and, especially, in the service of large banquets and, after going through some other business, at the age of 21 he owned his own pastry shop, located on Rue de la Paix.
Throughout the following decade, he had to polish his social skills and take advantage of opportunities to rub shoulders with the wealthy people for whom he served banquets, since the next thing that is known is that around 1805 he worked assiduously for Talleyrand -first minister and then Gran Chamberlain of Napoleon- and who in 1814 is working for Tsar Alexander I, then established in Paris.
Then came a pilgrimage that makes him serve the Prince of Wales (future George IV) in London, Lord Steward (British ambassador to Vienna), Lord Stairs (British ambassador to Paris), Prince Sterhazy (Austrian ambassador to Paris) and Baron Rothschild before retiring at the age of 47 to spend the last three years of his life dedicating himself to writing.
But regardless of his life, which could be found in any old-school biography and, in any case, makes him the first Star Chef (a term Americans like so much) in history, the really important thing about Careme is his innovative vision of cooking. That is what makes him a truly revolutionary figure.
For years he devoted himself to studying traditional French cookbooks (both popular and wealthy classes) and, based on this knowledge, he proposed a renovating synthesis, what we could call a “revised French cuisine” in which for the first time They systematize the broths, the funds and the sauces. Even if that were the only contribution, it would not be small, and I am not only referring to the fact that the written version of this cookbook, his famous Art de la Cuisine aux XIX Siecle, occupies five volumes (of which, by the way, there is no published in Spain more than a small extract, which seems very significant to me), but rather because without this systematic study the work of Escoffier and all those who came later would not have been possible.
But it is also that Careme was more than 150 years ahead of the Nouvelle Cuisine in issues such as its claim to the traditional cookbook (some would now say of the cuisine of the terroir). And, even more, it took almost two centuries of advantage, with the logical differences and limitations, to molecular cuisine that is so fashionable today and that sounds so modern to us by proposing the analytical study of some traditional recipes such as Pot au Feu . For the first time, the scientific study of cooking was proposed.
So we have the first Star Chef, the compiler of the classic French cookbook and its great renovator, the precursor of some details of the Nouvelle Cuisine and the science / cuisine relationship ... And despite all the general public, even the one who is able to locate Escoffier or Brillat-Savarin, he usually knows little or almost nothing about him. So - it will be for my taste for antiques and for the remote origin of things - this is my grain of sand so that justice can finally be done.
I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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