• Culture and Taste in Gastronomy
  • Culture and Taste in Gastronomy
  • Culture and Taste in Gastronomy

Many definitions of the concept of culture have been produced and developed by philosophers, educators, social scientists and anthropologists. In these definitions, it is seen that aspects of culture such as social heritage, traditions, way of life, individual psychology, thinking..

Culture and Taste in Gastronomy
Yener OGAN* 
Mustafa AKSOY**
The concept of culture; It has an important place in the subject area of ​​other branches of science, especially history, economy, psychology, sociology and anthropology. For example, structural functionalist theory, which is one of the most important theoretical approaches in the fields of sociology and anthropology, answers the question of how a society can survive as a living organism. This theory has been systematized over time and developed by emphasizing the concepts of interdependence, integration and solidarity (Wallace & Wolf, 2012). 
In the theory of needs developed by Malinowski, an answer is sought by drawing attention to the basic needs of people, who are the founding elements of a culture. Therefore, food and drink, which is one of the basic needs of people, has a close relationship with culture. When this situation is evaluated in terms of gastronomy, the attitudes and behaviors of people in the stages of food and beverage preparation, storage, cooking, service and consumption are examined in the context of culture (Gökdemir, 2005). The concept of taste can be expressed as the culmination of the taste of food and beverages. 
Here, the appetizing properties of the product that is the subject of eating and drinking, its smell, the taste it leaves in the mouth, the ease of digestion and the desire to experience it again can be decisive (Çakıcı and Yıldız, 2019). In this context, the concepts of culture and taste, which have an important place in the subject area of ​​gastronomy, are explained and the relationship between culture and taste is tried to be presented.
Many definitions of the concept of culture have been produced and developed by philosophers, educators, social scientists and anthropologists. In these definitions, it is seen that aspects of culture such as social heritage, traditions, way of life, individual psychology, thinking, symbols, ideals, values, behaviors, adaptation to the environment are emphasized. The definitions that were first made as the culture of something gave way to the definitions about culture alone at the beginning of the 18th century, and towards the end of the same century, it was defined as an intellectual and spiritual way of life (Oğuz, 2011).
In the historical process, well-known scientists such as Taylor, Malinowski, Mannheim, Weber, Elias, Parsons, Benedict, Boas, Mead, Linton, Lowie, Kroeber, Williams, Clifford have tried to define what culture is. For example, in a definition made by Edward Taylor, culture was expressed as “the whole that includes habits and skills such as morals, beliefs, knowledge, art, traditions that human beings have as a member of society” (Taylor, 1994: 269). According to Malinowski, culture is “a whole composed of partially autonomous, partially coordinated institutions. This unity is protected by a set of principles such as blood unity based on lineage, spatial unity based on cooperation, specialization in activities, and especially by the use of force in political organization” (Malinowski, 1992: 44).
According to the definition in the dictionary of the Turkish Language Association (2021), culture; It is the sum of all the material and spiritual values ​​created in the historical and social development process and the tools used in creating and transmitting them to the next generations, showing the extent of human dominance over their natural and social environment. Therefore, the concept of culture includes knowledge, art, belief, tradition, habit, behavior, morality, etc. that belong to humanity. encompasses many elements. In this respect, the characteristics of culture can be expressed as being historical, learned, continuous, social, changeable, sensuous, adaptive and integrative (Guvenc, 2002). 
Culture, which is a word of Latin origin and passed from French to Turkish, literally means ploughing and harvesting. Turan (2000) stated in his study that the word culture in Turkish has different meanings according to the areas in which it is used. In this context, different meanings of culture according to the areas in which it is used are given in Table 1.
Table 1. The Meaning of Culture According to the Fields of Use

Usage Area



crop, product.


Producing a type of microbe under suitable conditions (Getting a throat culture).


Phases of common items made by humans (Neolithic culture).


Acquired systematic knowledge. (Music culture etc.)


An individual who has developed some skills such as art and pleasure (Cultured person).


The whole of behavior, art and thoughts belonging to a community (Turkish culture etc.).


Creating material and spiritual values throughout history and transferring them to the future.

As mentioned above, culture is a very broad concept in scope. When the concept of cuisine is examined within the scope of culture, cuisines reflect the culture of the society it belongs to, and throughout history, nutrition, belief, lifestyle, geography, agriculture, economy, climate, culinary practices, etc. has changed and developed depending on the circumstances (Kabacık, 2020). In addition, the culinary culture includes the necessary tools and techniques for the preparation, cooking, preservation of food and beverages and for eating and drinking. Therefore, culinary cultures, which have a unique structure, contain a holism and contain many features.
Features of Culture
Culture, created by people from the past and transferred from generation to generation, can be expressed as all of the material and spiritual values ​​that can reach today. Considering the definitions made about culture, it includes many features such as being human, learned, traditional, shared, informative, organizing and distinctive. In this direction, the characteristics of culture are listed below as items (Mutlu, 1999; Yeşil, 2013).
• Belongs to a particular group or society,
• It has distinctive features of a certain group or society,
• Consists of learned behaviors,
• It can be learned, developed and changed later,
• It is transferred from generation to generation,
• It encompasses values,
• Shared by individuals,
• It is one of the most basic elements of solidarity,
• It gives information about the social structure,
• It is the determinant of social identity,
• Limits individuals by taking into account some rules,
• It consists of elements that complement each other.
Components of Culture
Undoubtedly, culture comes first among the elements that best reflect the life style of a society. Every society has cultural differences. However, regardless of the cultural structure of a society, there are basic components that make up the culture, and they are integrated with each other with both functional and historical ties. In this context, the components that make up culture are listed below (Akay Ertürk, 2018; Köse, Tetik, & Ercan; 2001).
• Tongue,
• Religion and beliefs,
• Norms and rules,
• Values,
• Attitudes and behaviors,
• Customs and customs,
• Icons,
• Morality,
• Laws,
• Technology.
It can be said that the satisfaction in the eating and drinking behaviors of individuals occurs in two dimensions, physiological and psychological. In other words, individuals first consume food and beverages with their sensory organs (eye, nose, tongue, hand and ear). This dimension is called psychological satisfaction and can be expressed as a prerequisite for the realization of physiological satisfaction. Therefore, the sensory properties of foods (color, shape, consistency, texture, smell, taste, etc.) are important for individuals. 
In particular, taste and smell are perceived together from sensory properties and are considered as flavor according to the taste of individuals (Press Reader, 2021). Taste is a word of Arabic origin. The word taste has various meanings such as "taste taken by mouth", "pleasure, pleasure from anything", "taste", "enjoyment" (Turkish Language Institution, 2021). As a term, flavor is defined as a property perceived with the participation of all senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch) during the consumption of food. 
In other words, each sensory feature of people affects the taste (Karadeniz, 2000; Lindsay, 1996). Taste, on the other hand, is defined in the dictionary of the Turkish Language Association (2021) as “the sensation that living things perceive the non-volatile compounds in food through the mucous points on the palate, throat and tongue surface”. This sensation is classified as bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami tastes. Therefore, if the taste can be perceived by the whole body, it is accepted as a flavor.
Individuals give a sensory response to the taste, smell and texture properties of food in their food and beverage preferences. Of these reactions, taste is accepted as the main determinant of food preference (Smutzer et al., 2013). In fact, studies have found that the most important and determining factor in an individual's food choice decision is taste (Çakıcı and Yıldız, 2019). Lanfer (2012) stated in his study that individuals' taste preferences are affected by psychological, demographic, genetic and environmental factors, and these factors are grouped and included in Table 2.
Table 2. Factors Affecting Individuals' Taste Preferences


Explanatory Information

psychological factors

Exposure and learned taste

demographic factors

Age, gender, cultural differences

genetic factors

Inheritance variations

environmental factors

Differences from family and close environment

When Table 2 is examined, it can be said that psychological, demographic, genetic and environmental factors are effective in the formation of the individual's taste preferences. When factors such as heredity, socio-cultural structure, family, physical characteristics and geographical area that affect the formation of an individual's personality are taken into account, it can be said that there is a close relationship between the personality structure of individuals and their taste preferences (Özkaya, 2003).
The first perception of taste begins with the visual evaluation of the food and the decision whether it is edible or not. Later, with the activation of the senses of smell, touch, taste and hearing, the perception of taste takes place (Karadeniz, 2000). The sense of taste affects the decision about the taste of the food the most. Therefore, there are differences in the rate of influence of each sense in perceiving the taste of food.
Taste provides the emergence of feelings such as satisfaction or desire to eat again after the consumption of food through the senses and perceptions. When the concept of taste as a behavior is examined, it can be expressed as efforts to repeat a previous experience with food or to taste a food that has not been experienced before as a result of advice or hearing. 
Taste as an attitude, on the other hand, is formed by the influence of various factors such as culture, environment, family, education, experience, and is the whole of evaluation, beliefs and values ​​that guide the individual's food preference (Çakıcı & Yıldız, 2019). In this direction, it can be said that taste and culture are effective in the food preference of individuals and there is an important relationship between them.
The Effect of Cultural Differences on Taste
Many factors can be mentioned in the formation of cultural differences. These factors are historical, geographical, social, social, etc. It is related to areas that have been owned by many societies and is directly related to the components of culture (Karakuş, Onat, & Güneren, 2020). While examining the effect of cultural differences on taste, it should be examined which resources the cultures of societies are shaped by. In this context, geography, which includes features such as climate and land conditions, is one of the main determinants. 
For example, while rice is the staple food in East Asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan, why wheat is used in Southern Europe is related to geography. The processing and consumption of these basic foods into food and beverage is not only related to taste, but also a biological and cultural phenomenon, that is, it arises from the situation related to taste. In addition, taste is closely related to food or beverage making styles. 
Every culinary culture has one or a few basic foodstuffs, and the culinary culture develops around this focus. In this context, basic foodstuffs and some products used in kitchens that are widely known in the world are given in Table 3.
Table 3. Basic Food Ingredients and Some Products of Commonly Known Cuisine in the World

Culinary Culture

Basic food items

Some products

Turkish Culinary Culture

Wheat, Meat, …

Bread, Noodles, Tarhana, Baklava, Pita, …

French Culinary Culture

Wheat, Meat, …

Bread, Cheese, Wine, Butter, …

Italian Culinary Culture

Wheat, Meat, …

Bread, Pasta, Pizza, …

Chinese Culinary Culture

Wheat, Rice, Soybean, ..

Bread, Rice, Vegetable Dishes, …

Russian Culinary Culture

Wheat, Rye, Barley, …

Bread, Pancakes, Pies, …

As seen above, when the geographical regions of Turkey or the world are considered, it is possible to reach different tastes. For example, the consumption of hot pepper in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey is not a coincidence, but a necessity of the geography. A similar requirement is also seen in Mexico and Spain, which is influenced by the culinary culture. Consumption of more herbs in the northern parts of the Mediterranean is also a geographical result. It is for the same reason that cabbage and potatoes shape the culinary culture in cold climates and that spices are dominant in India.
When the definitions of the word gastronomy are examined, there are expressions of "pleasant and delicious cuisine" and "meal order and system". Therefore, it can be said that the dishes that are the subject of gastronomy have a certain taste and represent a cultural accumulation in an order and system. Considering the diversity of cultures and flavors that societies have, there is an important research area in the relationship between culture and taste in terms of gastronomy.
With the transition of humanity to settled life, the combination of natural events and cultural developments has improved the production of food. As a result of these developments, people's desire to try different flavors has emerged (Kılıçlar et al., 2017). For example, the desire to discover and experience different flavors is among the reasons for the increasing interest in local cuisine, which is one of the most important elements of gastronomic tourism in recent years. Therefore, the desire to discover and experience different tastes is one of the most important phenomena of the current century and is an important tool in recognizing cultural characteristics.
Culture, geography, history, economy and religion come first among the factors that affect the diet. How, when and which foods and beverages will be consumed is a society-specific concept (Talas, 2005). Therefore, the diet reflects the food and beverage culture. This situation emerges as a cultural phenomenon.
Values ​​and beliefs have an important place in the cultures of societies. These values ​​and beliefs can prevent the element of taste in terms of limiting the diversity in food and beverages. Food and beverages are also a cultural heritage. Food and beverages have an important role in reaching and awareness of cultures from past to present.
Many factors such as tourism, trade, war, migration, fair play an important role in the formation of intercultural interaction. As a result of these factors, people had the opportunity to get to know different flavors and introduced their own flavors. Again, differences such as geography, climate, socio-cultural structure in the regions where people live offer a wide variety of flavors. In addition, it can be stated that innovative and creative applications such as molecular cuisine, product development and sensory analysis in the field of gastronomy are effective in the formation of different flavors.
As a result, the concepts of culture and taste have an important place in the basis of gastronomy. Especially the taste of food or beverages specific to a region is one of the important elements that ensure the learning and sustainability of the culture of that region. The differences of cultures and the diversity of tastes have reached the present day by constantly changing and developing. The field of gastronomy is an important tool in transferring the cultural and taste accumulations created by these changes and developments to humanity.
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As the head chef Ahmet ÖZDEMİR, I see the source:
Mr. Yener OĞAN, I sincerely thank Mustafa AKSOY for his academic studies titled "Culture and Taste in Gastronomy" and wish him success in his professional life . It will definitely be considered as an example by those who need it in professional kitchens and the gastronomy and culinary community.
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