Ecogastronomy is the art and science of food shopping, preparation, cooking, and presentation – with an awareness of the cultural, social, and physical environment in which all of the above occur. Cooking is an integral piece, whereby the students can marvel at both the chemical mélange and the artful timing, the real differences in cooking times and textures as a result of the maturity of the raw ingredients, and the high quality of the wondrous concoction (when the cook tastes it throughout).
Students in my Ecogastronomy class cook. They shop and they cook. And they eat – together. One of the most important components of the course is our rather large potlucks (the class next winter will boast 120 students). What this means is that each week, 30-40 students are cooking for themselves, as well as 5-6 others. They do this three times during the quarter, being careful to label their foods when they present them to the class.
Students are encourages to ascribe to one or more components of farmer-writer Henning Sehmsdorf’s FLOSS (Fresh-Local-Organic-Seasonal-Sustainable) or my WISE (Whole-Inexpensive-Slow-Experienced), in the production/selection/cooking of the foods. These delightful potlucks are a tribute to the ingenuity around and the commitment to real food — that the students create each week.