Editorial Feature

The Cuisine of Freedom

President of Real Academia Española de Gastronomía Rafael Ansón on the new wave of gastronomy 

The Cuisine of Freedom is a Spanish concept, "which allows for the existence of haute cuisine in a number of countries, and above all, for the existence of culinary artists at any time and in any place."

The Cuisine of Freedom is part of a new wave of gastronomy. Under the influence of Spain, gastronomy has ceased to be a sensory, enjoyable pleasure only for the privileged few, instead it’s becoming one of the most important activities for many people in the 21st century. It encompasses health, solidarity, sustainability, and satisfaction: four concepts that are key elements of this great revolution.


The idea of eating for pleasure was greatly recognized in the 19th century; in particular during the Belle Époque in Paris. This concept remained unchanged for a very long time, but it’s why its sole purpose appeared to be the enjoyment of eating by the privileged few.

Interior of Maxim's restaurant by Loomis Dean (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

Fast forward to a century later in the 1980s and 1990s and with Spain at the helm, a process of change began in the world of food and gastronomy. Firstly, the Cuisine of Freedom appeared, epitomized to a large extent by Ferran Adrià, in which chefs were no longer artisans but artists and creatives. At the same time, a global vision of food was established, taking into account the different ingredients of food itself: the elements relating to health, social relationships, culture, education, and its influence on the economy, employment, healthcare provision, and tourism— all of which make up the single concept of gastronomy, approached from a general perspective.

Cover from The New York Times, Ferran Adriá, 2003 (From the collection of Real Academia de Gastronomia)

Alongside this new cuisine ("the new Nouvelle Cuisine," as The New York Times labeled it in regard to the Adrià phenomenon), a new gastronomy emerged and was linked to the four concepts below.

Health

Dish from Huerta de Carabaña restaurant (From the collection of Real Academia de Gastronomia)

The new gastronomy aims to be healthy because it’s thought the most important thing about eating is getting the necessary nutrients for a good quality of life. Of course, any quality gastronomic dish should aim to be healthy under these principles. However, while it is true people should eat healthily, in reality, as Professor Grande Covián, founder of the "Fundación Española de la Nutrición" (Spanish Nutrition Foundation) observed: "People will eat what they should, [only] if they like it." Suggesting nutrition and gastronomy are separate concepts that can be united in our diet.

Solidarity

Another of the concepts is solidarity. It is not just about the privileged few eating well; instead, and above all, we should be putting an end to hunger and malnutrition in the world, so that nobody is forced to risk their life due to a lack of food. This should be an imperative objective for our coexistence with others. It means that every person must be able to eat what they need, while still getting enjoyment from eating. But there is another essential aspect to this solidarity: the importance of sharing. Alone, it’s thought we don't enjoy a good meal in the same way. Sitting around a table should be an opportunity for meeting up, for conversation, for family life, and for friendship. While eating, we talk, share, and enjoy. When we eat alone, the experience is faster and likely to be less balanced and less healthy.

Sustainability


Dish from Sollo restaurant (From the collection of Real Academia de Gastronomia)

The new gastronomy is sustainable, because it requires us to consider future generations, who also have the right to enjoy food in a healthy and pleasurable way. This sustainability and respect for the environment and ecology should also facilitate enjoyment of gastronomy. In this regard, household vegetable patches are thought to be extremely important. These spaces allow us to eat fresh food just as nature intended, without the need for long journeys and complicated logistical arrangements in which the produce is stored in cold conditions over long periods of time. Proximity is extremely valuable when it comes to eating and reclaiming our quality of life.

Satisfaction

Lastly, food should provide satisfaction. When it comes to combining health and pleasure we should always take into account the fact that sensory matters are not based solely on knowledge but also on experience; they are not simply empirical values but must be based on experimentation. Satisfaction implies learning to eat and knowing how to do so in order to make the most of food— or in other words, getting pleasure from eating. In addition, achieving this contributes to our psychological well-being, to our physical and mental health at a very basic level, to a better quality of life, and to greater happiness.

The Cuisine of Freedom, has managed to turn gastronomy and cooking into the only cultural activity that satisfies all five senses. Sight will be catered for in December 2019 with a display of dishes by top chefs that are true 21st-century works of art at Art Basel Miami, in an exhibition space dedicated to Culinary Art. Smell and taste (in other words, flavor) have always been critical elements in gastronomy. But the Cuisine of Freedom has also brought a new type of pleasure when it comes to eating: touch. Contrasting textures and temperatures are now featured in almost all the dishes produced by great chefs all over the world today. Finally, hearing. When we eat, it isn't rude to talk — it's quite the opposite. When we talk, other people hear and, most importantly, listen.

Gastrogenomica by Mario Sandoval (From the collection of Real Academia de Gastronomia)

In the gastronomy of the 21st century, the enjoyment of "experiences" is just as important as the acquisition of "knowledge," all in search of the Cuisine of Freedom. Promotional activities on the internet, which has been the creative hub of modern gastronomy for many years, have also contributed to the search. The internet is essential for instilling good culinary habits, behavior, and quality of life in infancy, which will mean that the food of future generations will encompass health, solidarity, sustainability, and satisfaction.

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