Texas Tech University

Is Food Art?

Dr. Ken Albala

Professor of History and Director of Food Studies, University of the Pacific.

While we like to speak of food as a refined object of culture, cooking is usually not a university major like art or music. This talk will explore the unusual position of cooking among the arts, both refined and homey, and try to understand why it has remained lowly in status, despite celebrity chefs and temples of gastronomy. An argument will be made that cooking should be considered an art form since it is vital to life, not only super refined or expensive food, but every form of cooking.

Dr. Albala has authored or edited 23 books on food including Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (winner 2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award), Pancake, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food and Nuts: A Global History. He was co-editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society and has also co-edited The Business of Food, Human Cuisine, Food and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies.

Dr. Albala was editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and is now series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy for which wrote Three World Cuisines (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has also co-authored cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. His latest works are a Food History Reader and a translation of the 16th century Livre fort excellent de cuysine. His course Food: A Cultural Culinary History is available on DVD from the Great Courses. Albala has just finished editing a 3 volume encyclopedia on Food Issues which will be published in the summer of 2015. He is now working on a book about noodle soups.

Dr. Albala received a B.A. with distinction, ΦΒΚ, from George Washington University, a M.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University.

Dr. Albala's lecture was held in the auditorium of the International Cultural Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, March 9, 2015.

This event was organized by the Lambda of Texas Phi Beta Kappa Chapter and co-sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, the Department of Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management, and the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization