Columbia University Press publish my new book, Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy, in the first half of 2020. It’s a basic rethink of economics from, for some people, an unexpected direction.
Until the early nineteenth century, political philosophy and economics took up fundamental questions of feeding one another. But with the rise of corporate capitalism, modern economics turned from the complexities of people’s sustenance in favor of the single-minded pursuit of money.
Meals Matter returns to economics’ roots in the distribution of food and the labour required. Following Brillat-Savarin, the book describes actual conviviality, while engaging with thinkers—including Epicurus, Enlightenment philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and economic theorists from François Quesnay and Adam Smith until the disaster of neoliberalism. The book finds hope in the liberal economics naturally emerging from community gardens, street markets, restaurants, domestic communalism, and the prospective return of banquets.
Here is the cover of my first book, One Continuous Picnic, which appeared in 1982. As in the subtitle of the second edition (2007), it’s a gastronomic history of Australia.
That original work was inspired by living for a year in a former watermill down an ancient Roman road near Radda-in-Chianti in Italy. The contrast with eating in my own country was so intriguing, important and revelatory that I’ve been doing gastronomy ever since. Here is a list of my books.
Gastronomy is the diner’s sense of the world, and Meals Matter, the blog, provides a focus, bringing together books, ideas, debates, news and observations.
Why do human beings cook? Who are our gastronomic heroes – that’s beyond Epicurus, Thomas Jefferson, Brillat-Savarin and M.F.K. Fisher? What’s the origin of the flat white? 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, fill in the form: