Food for thought: Fine dining takes backseat to ready-to-eat meals

Alliance Francaise’s director laments peoples’ lack of understanding of gastronomy.

Our Correspondent October 20, 2012

KARACHI: If Georges Auguste Escoffier, a legendary chef known for French haute cuisine, was alive today, he would probably have been mortified to see busy commuters wolfing down an assortment of junk food instead of relishing a bit of foie gras or filet mignon with béarnaise sauce.

Alliance Francaise’s director, Daniel Baillon, feels the same way - not everyone understands the importance of gastronomy and not much is being done to rectify this. At a rare lecture on Thursday, he tried to address the deficiency of interest on the matter. Alliance Francaise held the event to celebrate ‘la Semaine du Gout’, or the ‘Week of Tastes’, an international event for pleasure and education. Two days prior to the lecture, Vatel, a movie about the life of a 17th century French chef, was screened at the institute.

“Proper eating habits in these times are very hard to follow because of the shortage of time and the amount of junk food available,” said Baillon. He traced the etymology of the word ‘gastronomy’ to two Greek ones - ‘gastro’, which means stomach and ‘nomous’ for laws. It was first used in 1801 by poet Joseph Berchoux and over time, the study of food turned into an art.

Baillon said that it reached full bloom only after the Enlightenment. “Brillat-Savarin was the founding father of gastronomy. He took notes of his experiences, which were later compiled into a book. “

The collection, commonly known as ‘The Physiology of Taste’, brought together all the senses of the body. “The eye catches sight, the nose explores the smell, the ear perceives, touch identifies and the tongue and jaw bring to an end the journey of food and sense.” A photo of the cover of Savarin’s book depicted the author on the top, with chefs running up a flight of stairs with food. Baillon added that food was not just about eating but also about the pleasure that comes with it.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.


Parvez | 8 years ago | Reply

A subject after my own heart......... the French lay claim to good eating possibly because they were the first to refine it into an 'art form' and thus set a benchmark which all others aspire to reach.

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