Course Description

Course Name

French Gastronomy

Session: VPRU1122

Hours & Credits

42 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


 The objective of this course is to give students grounding in French geography, history, sociology, ethnography and economics as it is related to its gastronomy. Such topics as agriculture, food luxury industry, agro-business will also be touched on. Through culinary lenses students will understand the development of French identity at home and abroad.
This class will therefore use the student’s close daily environment and Paris as a classroom in order to have a multi-disciplinary and multi-sensorial approach to French gastronomy.

Students are expected to read the relevant course material for each class. Students are asked to expose themselves to as many French gastronomic cultural experiences as possible. 
Students have to complete the given assignments: 

Comments and personal assessment of the week’s topic based on the reading of the core texts. 

A 15/20 minute oral presentation in class on a topic related to the topic of the course of the day  and based on personal research. 

A term paper (5-6 typewritten pages with double spacing).  Students are expected to research the topic and present a critical assessment and analysis with concrete references. A detailed bibliography of at least three additional academic sources to those used in class should be included. The topic and methodology are to be in one chosen human sciences in agreement with the student’s home school in view of transfer credits.

A final exam.

The majority of texts will be handed out in class and audiovisual documents will also be used. 
Recommended reading: 
Jean-Robert Pitte, French Gastronomy – the History and Geography of a Passion, Colombia University Press, 2002.

Susan Pinkard, A Revolution in Taste: The Rise of French Cuisine, 1650-1800, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Barbara Ketcham, Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789, Touchstone, 1992.
Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Accounting for taste – The Triumph of French Cuisine, University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Mennell, Stephen (1996). All Manners of Food: eating and taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the present, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

The final grade for the course will be based on student performance on the following tasks: 
Presence and participation, oral presentation, final paper and final exam. 
NB: Students are required to be present for tests and to hand in their papers at the scheduled time. Late papers are penalized. 

Attendance is essential and checked on a daily basis. Only two unjustified absences will be accepted and all ‘justified’ absences must be documented. The final evaluation will take both absences and repeated unpunctuality (three ‘lates’ count as one absence) into account. Students who are late (i.e. who show up during or after attendance is being checked) should see the instructor after class so that they are marked as late present.



1. Introduction:  Syllabus presentation, Oral presentation scheduling.
Eating : a primitive, biological, social and cultural behavior.
Treasure hunting in La Grande Epicerie

2. Introduction to French gastronomic history, from Antiquity to 16th century.
Oral presentations.
Inquiry (interview on campus) : What do French people think about their gastronomy ?

3. Introduction to French gastronomic history, 17th, 18th, 19th centuries.
Film : Roland Joffé, Vatel, 2000. 
Oral presentations.

4. Introduction to French gastronomic history, 20th and 21st centuries.
Oral presentations.
Gastronomic historical walking tour from Palais Royal to rue Montorgueil.  

5. The French Gastronomic Meal as a UNESCO’s intangible World Patrimony. Cultural Transmission and Table Manners.
Film :  Paul Lacoste’s Entre Bras. La Cuisine en héritage, 2011.
Oral presentations.

6. A French specificity  : chocolate.
Film : Lasse Hallström’s Le Chocolat, 2000.
Oral presentations. 
Walking tour around chocolate in Paris. 

7. Labels and quality in France.
Oral presentations. 
Treasure hunt in Lafayette Gourmet.

8. Les Cuisines du terroir in France (Regional cuisine).
Oral presentations.
Debate around tradition and cuisine in France and the US.

9. Gastronomy as a luxury industry (Champagne, Foie gras, etc.).
Treasure hunt in Le Printemps du Goût.
Oral presentations.

10. Vegetarianism, Veganism, food allergies in France. 
Oral presentations.
Debate : Food and Ethic.
Deadline for final paper.

11. Final Exam.
Sharing our culinary discoveries.
Sharing our recipes.

*Course content subject to change