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Adventures in Gastronomy: Culinary Experiences and Food Writing
Art is the universal language. When borders widen between two communities, art is the only driving force that draws the voices of both communities to each other. Crossing borders, race, gender, sex, nationality, and every boundary that keeps human beings unique in their identity is sustenance. Food is the one component that not only forms a common ground between all living beings but is also one of the most successful elements in bridging cultural gaps. Then, is food not an art itself? If we look at the food and the making of food, the process of harvesting to cleaning it to preparing it in a way that retains both nutrients and taste is art itself. Like a painter deciding what color would liven up his blank palette, a chef or cook picks up the most suitable ingredients, finds the spice blends that complement each other, and creates a palette. Food is more than just sustenance; it's a cultural journey, a sensual experience, and an art form.
Gastronomy is the exploration of the art of food. Exploring new cuisines, documenting food experiences, and sharing them with the world has become a captivating pursuit for many. Culinary knowledge has spiked across countries, especially in the recent trends of Foodtok (Food+Tiktok), Instagram, and YouTube shorts. For instance, with K-pop fans wanting to try out the food mentioned in their favorite Kdramas or by a famous artist, Korean food and its history have become more prevalent in recent years. A resourceful video on the making of Bibimbap or Budae Jjigae will teach the viewer the history of Korean foods popular among international audiences. Maangchi, a popular food content creator on YouTube, has even made a playlist of her grocery shopping, ranging from staples to vegetables and other key ingredients necessary in a Korean household. Likewise, Instagrammers such as "@lahbco" show how the same dish can differ in the way it's prepared depending on the culture one is from. How shakshouka can be menemen depending on the region and culture, how mangsho kosha can be chicken kadhai, how momos can be mandu, or even how roshogolla can be rasgulla based on the regional dialect are all intricate pieces of food history.
Food writing captures the essence of this art form. Whether through cookbooks, food critic sites, Instagram posts, or travelogues, people have logged their food experience in various forms. Restaurant reviews allow enthusiasts to critique the food, ambiance, and service. It's not always a documentation of the technicalities of cooking, but also the emotions attached to it or maybe a memory of that food. Food and travel bloggers combine their love for traveling and food and create a more adventurous story. If you look up a recipe online, you will find a touching memory or instance that inspired the blogger to document the recipe. Maybe it's an old family recipe, something they'd accidentally made during their college dorm days, or something they enjoyed on a cold, rainy day. Cookbooks and food memoirs do something similar, adding a more autobiographical touch. The beautiful thing is that it creates an intangible bridge between the reader and the writer, proving that regardless of the differences we make among us, our experiences bind us.
Culinary adventure is not only for chefs and food critics. With the recent advent of farm-to-table culture, everyone has become engaged in understanding traditional cooking methods, sustainable cooking, and learning the ingredients and process that goes into cooking to create a healthy, organic meal. Switching from supermarkets to local farmers' markets, traveling to foreign places, and learning their culture through regional food has become the new norm.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Manik Chaturmutha