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4-5 dicembre 2018: Framing Recipes: Identity, Relationships, Norms

Framing Recipes

Culinary Mind - Centre for the Philosophy of Food


Framing Recipes: Identity, Relationships, Norms

4-5 dicembre 2018

This inaugural conference of the Culinary Mind Network, hosted by the Philosophy Department at the University of Milan, is devoted to the study of recipes from a philosophical perspective. The conference brings together a strong and assorted cohort of scholars and experts (e.g. cooks, writers) on recipes, with a primary philosophical focus.

Philosophers have tackled important questions pertaining to the ethics of our dietary choices and the aesthetic worth of foods. But many dimensions of eating remain by and large unexplored, including recipes. Recipes are key tools in any culinary culture, instructing diners on how to prepare dishes in a safe, nutritious, pleasing fashion. Their oral transmission, by means, for instance, of rhyming descriptions, was arguably pivotal to the thriving of the human species. In the past two centuries, the propagation of restaurant culture, including menus, themselves arranged in terms of recipes, has significantly contributed to the ascent of recipes, and probably also to the custom of writing them down. Today, cookbooks have come to be a major sector of the publishing industry. TV shows and media are also treating recipes in a manner more and more akin to items of popular culture like songs and movies. Not only do some recipes now benefit from the legal and socio-economic advantages of being vicariously protected through the culinary cultures listed under the Intangible Cultural Heritage list; recipes associated with so-called geographical indications, e.g. gorgonzola and Parmigiano cheese, have been protected by intellectual property rights for a long time. Still, the increasing importance of recipes in the public sphere is not matched by a scholarly study of them. Particularly lacking seems to be a theoretical framework through which to adequately express questions and positions driving the public debates concerning recipes.

The conference aims to cover the theoretical gap in the study of recipes by addressing three major themes: identity; relationships; and norms. Topics on the identity of recipes include: identity of recipes through time; taxonomies of recipes; relationship between recipes and their instances; definition of ingredients; comparative studies of recipes and songs or architectural plans. The constitutive relationships that characterize recipes include those to territory, producers, consumers, places and spaces of production. Finally, the conference aims to study the norms guiding the naming, production, and consumption of recipes, for instance how to resolve disputes of cultural appropriation or recipes, or disputes circa the constitutive authority to claim and regulate a recipe as well as to single out its instances; of particular interest will be the interplay between aesthetics and ethics in recipe making.

All are welcome to attend. For questions, please contact Andrea Borghini (andrea.borghini@unimi.it). 

Conference Program

Tuesday December 4th / Day 1

Chair: Matthias Kaiser (University of Bergen, Norway)

h 8:30 welcome desk / registration

h 9:00 welcome address: Andrea Borghini (University of Milan, Italy)

h 9:30 plenary talk: Johanna Mendelson Forman (American University, USA), Is Social Gastronomy a Recipe for Peace?

h 10:20 short talk / Patrik Engisch (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Traditions in Action: Recipes, Memory, and Representation

h 11:10 coffee break

h 11:40 short talk, Sanna Hirvonen (London, UK), Recipes Without Makers

h 12:15 short talk Davide Bordini (University of Liege, Belgium), The Tastes of a Recipe

h 12:50 lunch break

Chair: Kristina Pucko (University of Milan, Italy)

h 14:30 short talk / Lisa Palmer (University of Maryland, USA), One Meal a Day

h 15:05 short talk Giuliano Torrengo (University of Milan, Italy) & Akiko Frischhut (Akita University, Japan), Time for After-Tasters

h 15:40 short talk Gabriele Ferretti (University of Florence, Italy) & Andrea Borghini (University of Milan, Italy), Dip It Before You Eat It! Recipes and Affordances

h 16:15 coffee break

h 16:45 short talk Virgil Brower (Charles University, Czech Republic), Recipes & Algorithms: Ingredients, Concoctions & Empirical Mathematics

h 17:20 plenary talk / Enrico Bonadio (City Law School, London, UK), Can Food Recipes and Presentations be Protected by Copyright? Some “Tasty” Reflections

h 18:10 end of the 1st day

Wednesday December 5th - Day 2

Chair: Sanna Hirvonen (London, UK)

h 9:00 plenary talk / Cain Todd (University of Lancaster, UK), Authenticity and the ‘Natural’ in Recipes

h 9:50 plenary talk / Gyorgy Scrinis (University of Melbourne, Australia), The Recipe on the Packaged Food Label: The Design and Marketing of the Nutrient Profile and Ingredients in Ultra-Processed Foods

h 10:40 coffee break

h 11:10 short talk / Nicola Piras (University of Sassari-Alghero, Italy) & Andrea Borghini (University of Milan, Italy), From Foods to Dishes, and Back

h 11:45 panel “Recipes Across Borders”:
- Susan Barocas (Food Writer, Washington D.C., USA)
- Cesare Battisti (Restaurant Ratanà, Milan, Italy)
- Antonia Klugman (Restaurant L’Argine a Vencò, Dolegna del Collio (Go), Italy);
- Enrico Vignoli (Postrivoro, Italy);
Moderator: Francesca Mastrovito (University of Bologna, Italy)

h 12:45 lunch break

Chair: Patrik Engisch (University of Fribourg, Switzerland)

h 14:00 1st workshop Anne Barnhill (Johns Hopkins University, USA) & Matteo Bonotti (Monash University, Australia), Recipes and the Politics of Dieting

h 15:30 coffee break

h 16:00 2nd workshop Johanna Mendelson Forman (American University, USA) & Susan Barocas (Food Writer, Washington D.C., USA) & Francesco Guala (University of Milan, Italy), Recipes for Cultural Integration

h 17:30 plenary talk / Ben Wurgaft (MIT, USA), A Recipe For Happiness: Artificial Flesh and the Reshuffling of Moral Norms

h 18:20 conclusions & goodbye to the audience

h 18:30 wrap up session with the members of the network: what’s next?

h 19:00 aperitivo!


The Lectures will be held in English.
Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend.

Conference organized by Andrea Borghini & Francesca Mastrovito for Culinary Mind - Centre for the Philosophy of Food.

05 dicembre 2018
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