CU/AN 338 - Barcelona: The Culinary City

In the early 2000s, the NY Times has called Spain “the new France”. Since then, Barcelona has become known as a culinary capital of the world, thanks in large part to the legacy of chef Ferran Adrià and his followers. How can we explain this revolution? This course will trace the legacy of Barcelona’s culinary culture, dating back to its history within Catalunya and the Mediterranean region, and following it all the way to the city’s current status as a modern-day influential gastronomic and culinary hub. 


As we analyze the long, rich history of food culture in Barcelona, we will discover that in traditional Mediterranean cultures, food is about much more than what’s on the plate, hence allowing us to establish multiple connections to culture, lifestyle, and rituals. This historical and cultural understanding will provide us with a framework to analyze current topics and trends in Barcelona’s contemporary food scene, such as the avant-garde, from Ferran Adrià and his influence over chefs locally and around the world; the changing role of the chef in society; the role of gender in food; or chocolate as an example of the globalization of food. We will also take on the pressing issue of sustainability in the food industry. The course will make full use of the city of Barcelona, which we will explore as a social and cultural space for the development of the local food culture. 


This course engages with the IES Abroad Global Pillars of sustainable living, equitable living, and human wellbeing. The course includes the discussion of relevant topics such as: accessibility to food; sustainable shopping/cooking/eating habits; alternative food movements (such as plant-based eating, farmers markets, and a long etc.); food justice; gender equality in the food industry; and critical historical perspectives of class structure and food. The course does so through methodologies that engage with the pillars such as: in-class group debates and discussions, guest speakers (Slow Food Barcelona and Mujeres en Gastronomía), field studies to local markets, and assignments through which students reflect on their own eating and shopping habits and how to improve them, such as designing a more sustainable version of their favorite recipe.

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Cultural Studies

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