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Gastronomy, Tourism and Globalisation DE EN ES FR IT

Salvador Antón Clave (Profesor, Universitat Rovira i Virgili - Tarragona)
Rémy Knafou (Professeur émérite, Université Paris 1)

Food has always been a component of the tourist experience (in fact, it represents an important part of the average tourist budget): we eat to survive and to avoid falling ill, but also to understand a region, a country. Food informs us about a population and the organisation of its civilization. With gastronomy, that is to say those practices and rules which constitute the art of fine dining, the tourist experience goes a step further, potentially transforming the gastronomic experience into the focus of the trip and the origin of tourist movement in a context where mobility is becoming increasingly global.
In the 21st century, the art of fine dining has become a system made up of at least three major types of actors: chefs, consumers (also called foodies), and those who contribute to making the two meet: that is to say the ever-growing number of “experts” giving restaurant advice. Traditional gastronomic guides, such as Michelin, and numerous food critics in different media are now being supplemented by bloggers and community site participants who enable consumers to contact other consumers directly. These three major groups are affected by their increasing mobility. Chefs travel — European and American chefs in particular have recently discovered Asia and are increasingly developing a style of cuisine which reveals the influence of this part of the world. Yuzu, wasabi, daïkon, wagyu beef, etc., can now be found almost anywhere, in major cities, but also sometimes in remote locations. A similar effect can be observed in the emphasis on aesthetics, the more or less successful focus on presentation of dishes served to clients. The authors of blogs and guides also travel and so do tourists, that is to say, potential foodies. The success of classifying restaurants on a global scale also, in its own way, points to the existence of a single culinary planet criss-crossed in every direction by chefs, critics, and clients.
Thus, it is easy to conclude objectively that people, recipes and ingredients are travelling more and more, but this assessment needs to be explored and justified in depth. And what about tastes?

1. Gastronomy is both an element and an indicator of globalisation

There exists today (and the use of the English term is by no means unintentional) “World Cuisine” found in our big cities which is not merely a juxtaposition of most worldwide cuisines (thus, in Paris, as in most major cities in general, one can eat “authentic” Chinese food from When Zou or Canton, as well as food from Japan, Laos, Thailand, Morocco, the Berber region, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, etc.). This “World Cuisine” is produced by the combination, within a same restaurant, of various influences which result in “Fusion Cuisine”, an expression which refers to a sort of culinary globalisation generally considered to be “post-modern”. For some (Sokolov, 1992), this new international cuisine is rooted in “nouvelle cuisine française” (or New French Cuisine), which inspired “New American cuisine”, New British cuisine, New Australian cuisine, etc. New French Cuisine was influenced by Japan, "discovered" by French chefs in the 1970s. Whatever the case may be, the recent history of the haute cuisine we consume today remains to be studied, but is all the more difficult to construct as it has not developed in a limited number of places and then spread, as it used to.

2. Identity, products, nation, regions in the context of globalisation

Globalisation also acts in a contradictory way here: on the one hand, it does favour the development of internationally standardised dishes (pizza, hamburgers, nuggets, sushi, tabbouleh, etc.), but on the other hand, in recent moves to differentiate territories, it also encourages the development or the renaissance of once-forgotten regional cooking. For instance, in the Canary Islands, in the context of triumphant mass tourism in the 1970s and 1980s, who knew or showed an interest in regional cuisine? How can we interpret the fact that the number one restaurant in the world is a Danish restaurant whose part-Albanian chef has established himself as the representative of a previously unknown Nordic cuisine? To what extent does the influx of products and tastes from Asia in great Western cuisine confirm that the world is turning towards the East? Is the promotion of “Slow Food”, of a “Sustainable Gastronomy”, a mere concession to the spirit of the times? Several publications (in particular Pasos ou Revista de Turismo y Patrimonio Cultural, in a special edition in 2008: Turismo gastronómico y el enoturismo). It also seems relevant to approach the question by taking into account tourist perspectives and destinations.

3. Tourists as vectors of evolution, and even of innovations in the field of gastronomy?

How does tourist mobility affect the contents of national and regional cuisines? And does it lead to improved quality? How long will the cuisine in major tourist spots remain governed by a “typical” menu whose limits are made clear as soon as the tourist spends more than two days in the same area? When will restaurants realize that tourists seek both safety and discovery, and that they must take into consideration the evolution of clienteles, of age groups, of tastes, and more generally, update links between tourism-gastronomy-health, an idea first developed by Michel Guérard, with his “slimming cuisine” (1976)?

Furthermore, whether tourism is the purpose of travel or an addition to the travel routine, (Quan and Wang, 2004), it also frequently reveals a regional or local gastronomic potential which can better express itself as long as it is situated in places or on tourist itineraries with sufficient attendance to constitute a clientele which will enable these establishments to be sustainable.

4. A more systematic exploration of relations between tourism and gastronomy

This theme is not completely new (cf., in particular, Hjalager and Richards, 2002 and also, in other cultural contexts, especially Latin America, Schlüter, 2003 and Schlüter y Gándara, 2003), but only recently has it been explored and much remains to be examined, all the more so as impressionistic approaches, which are not founded on the analysis of scientifically constituted corpora, abound . Up until now, gastronomy has mostly been considered as a way of approaching tourism or a certain type of tourism, but one can also reverse the proposition and consider the analysis of the evolution of gastronomy as it relates to the development of tourist movement. The analysis of gastronomy in terms of the level of expectations of those tourists who have travelled most widely and who are so interested in gastronomic quality that it becomes the aim of a tourist trip is also of interest. In the reference work quoted (2002), Anne-Mette Hjalager and Greg Richards write: “One of the things that struck the research team in their deliberations over gastronomy and tourism was the degree of symmetry between these fields. In both tourism and gastronomy there is a simultaneous scale divergence between small-scale, artisanal production and the growing scale of industrialized mass production. […] This symmetry is also reflected by a growing concern for authenticity as industrialized mass production undermines local foods and ‘real’ holidays.”

What can be said about the symmetry between these two fields? To what extent can they be considered on an equal footing? These questions were raised in the Declaration of Madrid in 2010 during the European Congress on Tourism and Gastronomy which listed different goals: products and registered names of a certain origin, the creation of specific products, the promotion of gastronomic tourism, quality labels, training, education and research, and the integration of new trends. All of this relies on the following observations: the growing importance of the pairing of food and health, the progress of an environmental consciousness in the field of gastronomy (using seasonal and local products, products from responsible fishing, and organic agriculture), the weakening of the international gastronomic leadership of Southern Europe, with the strong assertion of new regions (Asia, the United States, Northern Europe), the growing role of new media and blogs in the promotion of gastronomic tourism and the emergence of new transversal tourist products related to gastronomy (from wine-tourism architecture to language learning, in relation to gastronomy).

5 . Institutional strategic responses: PDOs, labelling, training, promoting, commercialising

How does one respond on different levels (national, regional), to changes in the world of gastronomy? What diagnostics can be made? What answers can be found? One can focus on these issues with a shortlist of four questions which offer a few keys for the academic analysis of the relations between gastronomy and tourism, and beyond the latter, with the culture of places:

1) Globalisation as the standardisation of taste, not only in the field of fast-food, but also in that of haute cuisine;

2) The standardisation of taste as a strategy of mediation between local gastronomic culture and the cultural gastronomic diversity of tourists;

3) The difference between local delivery of gastronomic products and the generally global dimension of the value chain associated with culinary acts;

4) The diversity of (global/local) impacts on local development of cooking models and of the role of gastronomy associated with the identity of places: cf. Blanco’s definition (2010) of gastronomy as a constructive element of the image of a tourist destination.

This kind of approach allows one not only to reflect upon the analysis of gastronomy as a tourist attraction, but also, more particularly, upon its added value in the production, transformation and development of a territory (Mascarenhas and Gandara, 2010).

6. Gastronomy, tourism and global competition among countries

Beyond tourism, gastronomy may help to reveal structuring elements of a country and of a culture. Thus, based on the French initiative requesting UNESCO to classify “gastronomic meals of the French” as part of the immaterial heritage of humanity (2010), one can deduce that gastronomy has become a cultural product with a worldwide aura and that competition now exists on a planetary scale. One can indeed interpret this initiative as the strategic response of a long-dominant national gastronomy, proud of a renowned and prestigious culinary heritage , to other national gastronomic traditions; in particular, to Spanish gastronomy, which is more structured and more media-savvy. It is also apparent that the different actors of gastronomy and tourism use the art of fine dining as a promotional strategy on an international scale by adopting widely varying positions: some of them focus more on celebrating great traditions, while others highlight innovation. They all aim at creating an attractive image for tourism.
According to Blanco (2010), gastronomic tourism marketing tools are growing: explaining the customs and the history of a place, presenting the local cuisine and typical dishes, table etiquette, popular recipes, gastronomic tours, special diets, combined trips, gastronomic routes, promoting specialised restaurants, promoting gastronomic package deals, gastronomic seminars, meeting famous chefs, gastronomic festivals, selling gifts linked to food, restaurant research, restaurant labels (quality, security), etc. In countries as different as France, Spain, South Africa, Vietnam, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Madagascar, Slovakia or Hungary, there are numerous examples of these tools, whether it be among well-known, emerging or intermediary destinations which , through gastronomy, wish to position themselves as destinations of excellence, possessing a unique identity and engaged in sustainable development.

The following are possible (but not exclusive) themes:

• Gastronomy as an element and indicator of globalisation; in particular, the assertion of competition on a world-wide basis now and the reshaping—especially on the geopolitical level—of the gastronomic planet
• The role of tourists in the evolution of gastronomy
• Tourism as a revealer of a regional or local gastronomic potential and as a contributor to developing or renewing national and subnational identities
• Gastronomy as a means of approaching tourism
• The evolution of gastronomy in relationship to the development of tourist flows
• Gastronomy as a constructive element of the image of a tourist destination
• Gastronomy as the destination of a tourist trip
• Gastronomy as an element of a heritage with a tourist dimension


- Articles are to be sent before 31st July 2012, for online publication in 2012; articles on this theme can be sent up until 15th October, for online publication at the beginning of 2013
- Articles will be returned to contributors before 25 October 2012
- Articles which have been accepted will be published online from 1st Decembre 2012, after they have been translated
- Send articles to: redaction@viatourismreview.net

Any article accepted by the Editorial Board will be translated into two other languages besides the one the article was originally written in.

Works cited

Bell D. & Valentine G., 1997, Consuming Geographies : We Are Where We Eat, London, Routledge.
Blanco J., 2010,
El valor del turismo gastronómico en el contexto mundial, I Congreso Europeo del Turismo y la Gastronomía, Madrid.
Csergo J. & Lemasson J.P. (ed.), 2008,
Voyages en gastronomies. L’invention des capitales et des régions gourmandes, Paris, Autrement.
Hjalager A.-M. & Richards G. (ed.), 2002,
Tourism and Gastronomy, London, Routledge.
Guérard M., 1976,
La Grande Cuisine minceur, Paris, R. Laffont.
Mascarenhas R.G.T & Gandara J., 2010, Producción y transformación territorial. La gastronomía como atractivo turístico,
Estudios y Perspectivas en Turismo, 19, 776 – 791.
Quan, S. & Wang, N., 2004, Towards a structural model of the tourist experience: an illustration from food experiences in tourism,
Tourism Management, 25, 297-305.
Schlüter R., 2003,
Gastronomia e Turismo, Sao Paolo, Editora Aleph.
Schlüter R. & Gandara J., 2003,
Gastronomía y Turismo. Una perspectiva, Buenos Aires, CIET.
Sokolov R., 1991,
Why We Eat What We Eat : How the Encounter between the New World and the Old Changed the Way Everyone on the Planet Eats, New York, Summit.