The sense of taste is a term both widely used and widely misused. For many people, taste has become increasingly important in recent years, with ambitious demands now being made on home kitchens. In the process, the extraordinary has become ordinary; even the cheapest beer in discounters is affixed with a premium label. But who determines what tastes good? This talk discusses how taste preferences have developed between the poles of tradition and individual freedom, and how they might continue to evolve in the future.
Gunther Hirschfelder was educated in history, political science, ethnology, and agronomics at the University of Bonn and completed a PhD in history at the University of Trier. For his habilitation, he studied alcohol assumption as an indicator of social and cultural change. After holding adjunct positions in Manchester, Bonn, and Mainz, Hirschfelder was made Professor of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Regensburg in 2010. He is the author of Europäische Esskultur: Eine Geschichte der Ernäherung von der Steinzeit bis heute (2001) and the coeditor of Die Zukunft auf dem Tisch: Analysen, Trends und Perspektiven der Ernährung von morgen (2011). He is on the advisory board of the International Arbeitskreis für Kulturforschung des Essens in Heidelberg and has also taught food management at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University.