Gianfranco Marrone: Gastromania
Anthropology of the contemporary



Manifesto for a New Conviviality

ISBN: 9788845277757
publisher: Bompiani
year: 2014
pages: 203


Gastromania – the mania for gastronomy – now pervades the most intimate areas of our life. In some ways it is a fashion, and, like all fashions, is destined to perish. In other ways it is a wide-ranging, complex social phenomenon on which we must stop to reflect. There are, certainly, overpowering tendencies in the world of consumerism which make us compulsively try an endless stream of restaurants with the accompanying experiments in menus and wines, and with all the rhetoric associated with the new, debatable superheroes of our time, the chefs – those frowning, creative figures who are always ready to barter ancient traditions and identity symbols for an additional star in their personal dossier. But beneath all the posing and marketing, gastromania guarantees, at least in theory, a greater awareness of what happens in the long chain that leads from the silent production of anonymous seeds to the ever more indiscreet rumblings of our overfull stomachs. The result is that, for example, in appreciating the colour of a new supposedly organic cru and evaluating its smells and tastes, one is not just showing off in an exclusive fashionable drawing room momentarily transferred to a metropolitan winery. One is at the same time, perhaps involuntarily, expressing a taste judgement on the processes of elite wine production, on the relationship between appetite and justice, the pleasures of the palate and respect for the environment, uninhibited gourmandizing and trade union restrictions. Similarly, when one comes up against elaborate molecular reductions and meticulous recreations of local specialities, ethnic cuisines or grandmother’s recipes, one is lost in a welter of papillae and synapses, emotions and concepts, gourmandise and politics. So, if we abandon the more banal poses of the superior connoisseur, and rediscover the critical irony which characterized, at the dawn of gastronomic science, the glorious almanacs of the bonviveurs, discussing global cuisine and good table manners, oenological expertise and gastronomic guidebooks, healthy diets and itineraries of disgust, television culinary performances and continuous online wine-tastings can mean something very important: rediscovering our desire to live, at the same time respecting and promoting that of others – thanks to a new language of conviviality, of which this book, in ten semi-serious chapters, aims to be the manifesto.