In 2024, Gastronomy will save the world!
At Biztronomy, we sincerely believe that the gastronomic act of sitting down to enjoy a meal brings ideas and identities closer together. We're convinced that, as a result, gastronomy will one day help to alleviate the world's dissensions and misunderstandings.
However, we also remain convinced that this belief is a direction and not a reality immediately at hand. It's a bit like communism: the concept of dancing around in sun-warmed grass, hand in hand with flowers and laughter, is attractive. But then there's the harsh, brutal reality that those two young people in the Garden of Eden, still steeped in childlike innocence, discovered when they bit into the apple.
Three profiles stand out. Those who realize that it's an apple, and that as soon as you bite into it, it will turn brown and eventually rot. Those who refuse to believe that they have bitten the apple and that it may rot; and finally, those who want to appropriate the apple, the tree and the garden that surrounds it.
Samuel Huntington argues that states are led either by moderates or by radicals; and that sooner or later, it's the radicals who gain the upper hand, at least for a short while. Those who want to believe that the apple remains untouched, just like those who think that it's all theirs, are in the starting blocks. These are the radicals.
In view of the internal and external national turbulence around the world, it would appear that the radicals are at the gates of the world system devised in 1945. They are determined to fight their way through to reshape this system and redistribute the seating plan.
We'd like to think, to prove Thucydides wrong, that taking the time to sit down at table, sharing flavors and words, learning to offer and receive, would be enough to calm tempers and find constructive solutions.
But when, within the same country, this act of fraternity becomes almost blasphemous, how can we expect it to go down more smoothly between different nationalities? Unless we remember what the English say: Familiarity breeds contempt. Which would lead us to believe that, under certain circumstances, we'd be more open to strangers.
Meanwhile, the ongoing deconstruction of Erasmus and his book On Civility in Children does not bode well. I invite you to observe Slogging, the trend which consists in wearing jogging suits indifferently, whether on a Sunday in front of the TV or on a Thursday evening in a chic restaurant.
Are the world's leaders better able to use table manners to temper the ardors of identity and deploy reasoned negotiations? We only have to look at Louis XIV, Napoleon or Jacques Chirac to concede that a leader's way of eating can speak volumes about the way he or she leads.
The Sun King, who ate alone at table, with his fingers and surrounded by his court, unleashed the 13-year War of the Spanish Succession, bleeding France and Europe in the process. Napoleon would hardly have been able to claim the Nobel Peace Prize considering the way he expedited his meals, in the same way he did with his soldiers. Our dear Jacques Chirac, on the other hand, a lover of beer and good food, had the audacity and courage to oppose one of the greatest forgeries of this early century (1)! Tell me how you eat and I'll tell you how you rule.
But is it the leaders' fault, or are they simply riding the whims of their people? The first generation accumulates, the second manages and the third squanders. Could this axiom be paralleled by the alternation of periods of pleasure with periods of contrition; one carried by joie de vivre, elation and recklessness, the other weighed down by the righteous, the saviors and the contrite?
Then we'd be in a convergence combining the dilapidation of values such as courtesy and listening while being condemned to conceal carnal pleasure and hide heretical thoughts. The double penalty!
And a poor prospect for those who believe in Saint-Brillat and Saint-Grimod! This is not the way for the world to learn to discover itself, to live in the present, even if it doesn't exclude thinking about the future instead of doing the opposite.
Nevertheless, there's a glimmer of hope that pushes us at Biztronomy beyond the present naysayers. The sublime of the table carries us with its hopes of innovative flavors, blossoming spirits and shared joy.
Our essays and epicurean strolls in 2023 have convinced us of this. And it's in these uncertain times that we need to stay the course and nurture hope.
So, after a six-month period of discovery and enlightenment, Biztronomy will continue in 2024 to bring you a fresh perspective on Gastronomy. While Gastronomy's links with business continue to form the bedrock of our approach, we'll be making forays into other fields and mixing up new flavors.
As you may have guessed, in the coming months we'll be looking at gastronomy from the angle of international relations, history and modern diplomacy. We'll find out, for example, whether the European Commission's JRC, in its quest for indicators and weak signals, could rely on food behavior to anticipate world events. We'll evoke the great meals of princes, as well as the small tables around which destinies are played out with the devil in the detail in the dish.
We'll look at the work of Max Weber to establish some of the fundamental, even structural, elements necessary for Gastronomy.
We will also continue our efforts to find and celebrate the great contemporary Gastronomes, with the mission of counterbalancing the excessive influence maintained by the preponderance of image and chefs, who make us forget that Gastronomy is as much a fruit of thought as a praise of the palate.
We will continue to expand our circle of enthusiasts and contributors. Other initiatives will be launched as resources and time permit.
Finally, this year will also see us prepare for the bicentenary of the publication of Physiologie du Goût, the Missal of Gastronomy.
Gastronomy is a unique heritage that can only elevate us. In the short term, Gastronomy won't save us. But in the meantime, we must save Gastronomy.
Happy New Year 2024!
(1) For my dear American readers, I'm ready to discuss it over a good meal!
Picture : Print from Forceval, The Congress of Vienna, 1814-1815