Neil lives in Sydney, Australia and enjoys just about everything gastronomic. Originally from Scotland he has worked in most places at various times until settling in Australia in 2000. His work takes him to Asia and India including trips to the US and Europe. Useful research as he is currently studying for his Masters in Gastronomic Tourism.
The Chef, starring Jean Reno and Michaël Youn, is a French comedy directed by Daniel Cohen. Reno plays Alexandre Lagarde, a veteran chef who clashes against his restaurant group’s new CEO, who wants the establishment to lose a star from its rating in order to bring in a younger chef who specialises in molecular gastronomy.
The film weaves around and through a number of interesting themes and effectively uses the humorous backdrop of the plot to both challenge and poke fun at the current reality, practices and beliefs of contemporary high-end gastronomy.
Flandrin and Montanari assert, “Every culture is ‘contaminated’; every ‘tradition’ is a child of history, and history is never static”. Looking at this from a present day semantic perspective this would appear to hold true.
Today’s current events become tomorrow’s historical ones. From a global perspective the statistical probability that what occurred today will repeat itself tomorrow, a veritable “ground hog day”, is so small that the assertion “history is never static” can be made with a high degree of assurance. By defining tradition as “the passing of elements of a culture or religious beliefs from generation to generation, especially by oral communication”, a case can be made for the parental role of history in the formulation and nurturing of a culture’s traditions.
Assuming that not all “contamination” is malicious, the current level of globalisation and social interconnectedness has driven the possibility of culture isolation to the furthest extremes of the Amazonian rain forest or Papua New Guinean highlands. Given this assertion that nothing realistically can be fixed or unchanging, we need to accept culture and tradition as a moveable element, à la Flandrin and Montanari, dynamic and open to contestation.
When the common question of country and food association is raised and the country in question is Scotland, two foods typically spring to mind – porridge and haggis. While these two foods converge at one end of the food spectrum, in that oats (in the form of pin-head oatmeal) are a primary constituent of Haggis; at the other they have diverged to a significant degree.
Ann Hope succinctly describes this divergence in Caledonian Feast – “Strange that, while porridge was easily accepted throughout the British Empire – some would say it as an integral part – haggis remains a curiosity outside of Scotland, an unfamiliar object which calls forth defensive ribaldry in its own country”