Sharing the world at meals … Take a seat!

Meals Matter

GASTRONOMY is the diner’s sense of the world, and Meals Matter, the blog, provides a focus, through which Michael Symons brings together books, ideas, debates, news and observations.

Michael Symons set out as a science and environment journalist, and completed a Ph.D. in the “sociology of cuisine” during 15 years as a restaurateur. He is now an independent scholar, based in Sydney, with a long list of books, papers and other publications.

PUBLISHED by Columbia University Press, Symons’ latest, Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy, rethinks the human predicament from, perhaps for some people, a surprising direction.

Yet finding and sharing food and drink is the most imperative human activity, and economists thought so, too, until capitalism diverted attention to money. That might suit corporations, but they don’t eat.

With the present crisis making the bottom-up reworking of economic theory even more urgent, here are purchasing suggestions.

The book’s originality is why food anthropologist Professor David Sutton generously locates its “potential to upend many orthodoxies”.

“A book I wish I had written”, writes former chef and now academic economist, Professor Ted P. Schmidt. The book succeeds “brilliantly in a radical project” for politics professor Janet Flammang. “Meals Matter is a passionate call to create a more convivial world,” according to professor of European history Bertram M. Gordon.  More reactions to the book.

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Here is the cover of One Continuous Picnic, a gastronomic history of Australia, which appeared in 1982, with an expanded edition in 2007. It was inspired by living for four seasons in a former watermill down an ancient Roman road near Radda-in-Chianti in Italy, and then setting up the Cantina di Toia restaurant in another Tuscan town, Bacchereto.

Symons found the contrast with his own country to be so sensual and revelatory that he wrote about his own industrialised country’s “history without peasants”. With Jennifer Hillier, he then ran the ground-breaking Uraidla Aristologist restaurant in the Adelaide Hills through the 1980s and into the 1990s, completing a Ph.D. in 1991.

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The Shared Table (1993) explored multiculturalism, authenticity, climate and much else. Why do human beings cook? In 1998, Symons showed cooks to be distributors at the heart of society.

Here is a list of Symons’ books. So many questions … while grateful for good food and company.

For blog essays, hit the Posts & Essays button (sometimes it’s above). To keep up with the latest, hit the Follow button (also, sometimes upper-right).

And to contact Michael Symons, email, or fill in the form:

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