A tectonic shift has occurred in the gastronomic field in France, upsetting the cultural imagination. In a European country captivated by a high-stakes power struggle between chefs and restaurants in the culinary field, the mass marketing of factory-processed industrial cuisine and fast foods has created shock waves in French society, culture, and the economy.
In this insightful book, French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism, Rick Fantasia examines how national identity and the dynamics of cultural meaning-making within gastronomy have changed during a crucial period of transformation, from the 1970s through the 1990s. He illuminates the tensions and surprising points of cooperation between the skill, expertise, tradition, artistry, and authenticity of grand chefs and the industrial practices of food production, preparation, and distribution.
Fantasia examines the institutions and beliefs that have reinforced notions of French cultural supremacy—such as the rise and reverence of local cuisine—as well as the factors that subvert those notions, such as when famous French chefs lend their names to processed, frozen, and pre-packaged foods available at the supermarket. Ultimately, French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism shows what happens to a cultural field, like French gastronomy, when the logic and power of the economic field imposes itself upon it.