Gastronome: To Drink or Not to Drink
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Gastronomy and the gastronome are inextricably linked. The latter has long been characterised by their proficient knowledge of food and beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages. While there is an abundance of gastronomic literature supporting the notion of food and wine as components of a gastronome’s purview, there is an absence of literature exploring the construct of the gastronome sans alcohol. That difference is significant, considering the opposing drinking cultures of France and Aotearoa New Zealand. While France’s dominant influence on gastronomy promotes moderate alcohol consumption, Aotearoa New Zealand has a reputation for binge drinking. Considering that, there is value in exploring the notion of the gastronome sans alcohol. To investigate that possibility, my research explored the subjective views of five renowned hospitality professionals within Auckland’s culinary landscape. To illuminate their experiences and knowledge, I used qualitative description and thematic analysis as my research method. That combination revealed my participants’ progressive insights reflecting the gastronome’s relationship with alcohol. Key to their insights was their consideration that a contemporary gastronome need not consume alcohol. That finding starkly contrasts existing literature linking food and alcohol as seminal themes for a gastronome. In this way, and within an array of participant findings, my dissertation offers an alternative perspective on the gastronome. That ‘New-World’ perspective suggests that France’s culinary and gastronomic dominance is, in fact, a thinly veiled form of culinary colonisation and imperialism. My dissertation questions that position and suggests that, as a ‘New-World’ country, Aotearoa New Zealand offers an alternate, forward-thinking perspective on the relationship between the gastronome and alcohol.