Tasty food, policy and durability

December 2007 -

"Gastronomy is the cultural expression of a basic need. It plays an irreplaceable part in development processes," says Manual Izaguirre Sotomayor, head of the Tourist Observatory of the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru.


Peruvian chefs at Madrid Fusión 2006

"Gastronomy is the complex result of everything involved in nutritious and tasty food: the ingredients, the cooking technique, the presentation and the consumption. It is a historical process that renders different results per culture. Under the influence of specific local circumstances and by the mutual influence between cultures.

We are talking about a powerful economic activity that can extensively affect the development of a country: from the crops of ingredients to the management of restaurants. In that chain, the entrepreneur bears a social responsibility that makes gastronomy an activity that demands strong moral insight. Because many countries have not yet developed political policy in this area, much depends on the goodwill of the individual businessmen. In Peru, for example, Gaston Acurio, currently the most successful representative of Peruvian cuisine, has established a cooking school in one of Lima’s poorer neighbourhoods. In many sustainable tourism projects, local gastronomy plays an important role.

Gastronomy is one of the few cultural activities in which globalisation and cultural diversity need not conflict. Rice, potatoes and tomatoes are eaten all over the world these days. But each country and each region have developed different preparation methods.

This fragile balance should be officially regulated. With reference to the numerous free trade agreements, many discussions address the threat of losing the cultural diversity. Precisely because agricultural products are a world heritage, it is important to protect preparation methods and production techniques that have been developed locally. The same thing that is currently happening with traditional medicines. This involves not only recognising the origin and a cultural property. Ultimately, the relevant country will profit economically."