Adam Gopnik is an award-winning American journalist best-known for his work at The New Yorker. The former art critic of the magazine, Gopnik’s work encompasses an incredibly broad range of cultural topics and figures. In recent years he has often written about food, the subject of his newest book, entitled The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food (Knopf, October, 2011).
This recording contains Gopnik’s keynote address from the 2011 Key West Literary Seminar, which explored the role of food in literature. A tour-de-force disquisition, Gopnik’s talk centers on two ideas of taste: one, the way a thing tastes in the mouth; and two, “taste” as an indicator of cultural sensibility. In support of his points, Gopnik invokes European philosophers including Montesquieu, David Hume, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and 20th-century American economists Thorstein Veblen and Gary Becker. He discusses the development of the restaurant, from its invention in 1780s Paris (credited to Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau) to the modern haute cuisine of Ferran Adrià’s notorious elBulli and René Redzepi’s Noma. Concluding that taste is the product of cyclical and complex relationships, Gopnik suggests that “mouth taste” and “moral taste” are inextricable from one another, providing more defense for the old adage that we are what (or at least how and why) we eat.
From KWLS 2011: The Hungry Muse