I came across this ad for a summer course at The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona on the Philosophy of Food. Here are the topics on the syllabus:
1. The Intersection of Theory of the Art and Cooking; 2. The Flavouring Turn; 3. The Renovation of Traditional Aesthetics; 4 and 5. The Intersection of Cooking and Art; 6. The Intersection of Art and Science; 7 and 8. Food Writing; 9. Gastronomy and Technology; 10. Cooking as a Space for Humanistic, Scientific, Technological and Artistic Research
Notice the focus on food, art, and aesthetics? This sounds like my kind of course. I wish I could be in Barcelona this summer.
This got me thinking about whether there are similar courses in the U.S. A quick Google search turns up the Philosophy of Food Project at North Texas State , a very interesting project but, from what I can gather, not particularly focused on aesthetics.
Baruch College has a food philosophy course with substantial aesthetic content; and there is a summer course at Boston University in their Gastronomy Certificate program that compares food and the arts. Courses in the Philosophy of Food at Eastern Illinois University and Gettysburg College apparently focus more on ethical and political issues rather than aesthetics, if the catalog course descriptions are accurate.
So is Philosophy of Food on the map yet? This is pretty slim pickins’.
On the other hand there are increasingly interesting books devoted to philosophical treatments of food aesthetics. In addition to established offerings from Telfer, Korsmeyer, and Allhoff and Monroe, there is a new anthology edited by David Kaplan, The Philosophy of Food, a quirky paean to the culinary arts by Hervé This entitled Cooking: The Quintessential Art, and the latest book by essayist Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First. Although Gopnik is not a philosopher, his insights are worthy of philosophical treatment.
However, if you search the blogosphere for thoughtful discussions of food aesthetics, your plate will be largely empty. Lots and lots of recipes, how-to instructions, journalism, and occasionally some food anthropology.
Edible Arts is a bit of a lonely outpost.