The g-word: Gastronomy

The g-word: Gastronomy

Gastronomy seems to be the magical key word to open doors to many worlds nowadays. The word gastronomy comes from Ancient Greek: Gastér meaning stomach and “nómos” meaning laws that govern. The power of the word comes inevitably from its roots: The governance of our stomachs over our lives.

In that context, the word gastronomy has a wide scope that can be taken in its broader sense, covering all aspects of human life, from agriculture to religion, from health to pleasure. Naturally, human hunger and greed govern the world. If we go back to the very roots of economy and trade, it is food again. Economies and trade revolve around food, and earning the money to pay for the food. Earning the money to afford food can vary from barely getting enough sustenance to live, or go beyond limits to splash fortunes in fine dining. The very large scope of the word gastronomy has recently led to many concepts that have become the core of discussions. One such concept is GastroEconomy, which will be explored on March 12 in Istanbul, with many of its subheadings from social gastronomy to gastro-diplomacy, and unavoidably gastronomy tourism.

The 2nd Global GastroEconomy is the initiative of TURYİD, the only umbrella organization combining Turkey’s restaurants performing their activities to provide added value in country’s economy, tourism and food-beverage sector, with the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Trade Ministry and Turkish Exporters Assembly. Director Kaya Demirer says the start of the summit stems from their belief in enabling the country’s economic growth through “sustainable development,” in order to introduce Turkey’s geopolitics’ importance and values hosted on its lands to the entire world. He stresses the fact that as TURYİD, they believe that it is important to create a “social perspective” through an individual and corporate view for the development of the country and think that we can only have improvement not only in restaurant management, but also in all sectors having interaction with restaurant business. Distinguished international and Turkish guest speakers will be talking about their experiences and inspiring projects, displaying the power of gastronomy as a tool of leverage to boost the economy and build peaceful relations among communities.

Among the titles recently introduced in the sector, Social Gastronomy brings up food’s position combining everyone at the agenda and focuses on creating opportunities for the ones in need and less privileged. Through these aspects, Social Gastronomy enables people not having the same rights and opportunities, alienated by societies all over the world to gain professional abilities through training and education and become effective and efficient individuals, and maintains both individual and social enhancement. One of the speakers, David Hertz, founder of Gastromotiva, will talk about the movement that aims for the prevention of wastage, creating a social change and a new understanding, is an excellent sample to show the social impact of gastronomy. Hertz calls Gastromotiva as the “Healing Power of Gastronomy.” His example mirrors in the initiatives of Ebru Baybara Demir in Turkey, who realizes projects with a sustainable revenue model enabling good agricultural applications, based on inter-cultural integration and transformation of knowledge into action both for the region’s women and Syrian refugee women in the southeastern province of Mardin. Social Gastronomy also undertakes serious roles in the public diplomacy area. Just as the model of Baybara, another example will be presented by Paul Rockower, executive manager of Levantine Public Diplomacy, an independent company operating in the public diplomacy area that brings the gastro-diplomacy in state branding issue to the agenda. Gastronomy is the way for interaction between cultures, branding of country cuisines, and transforming local tastes into commodities with high added value. The gastrodiplomacy notion, which transforms gastronomy into an important diplomacy instrument, continues to change the world. Today is the right time not to stand by this change and effectively use the gastrodiplomacy in the advertisement of Turkish cuisine.

There is a Turkish saying: The way to one’s heart is through the stomach… So true! The Global GastroEconomy Summit has chosen this saying as their motto, claiming that the summit will follow the way towards the heart of the world. Hope it will prove to be for the good and reach out to the hearts of people around the globe.

Aylin Öney Tan,