A friend of mine who is a big cheese in Chinese food circles (or should we say ‘a big tofu’ in these parts?) has asked me for ideas in translating his Chinese term shi xue 食学 (literally ‘Food Studies’). He is proposing that there should be an academic discipline of this name on with the same status as subjects like chemistry, geography and history. It will encompass ecology; food production from farm to plate (including agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting, fishing, foraging…); cookery; gastronomy; the aesthetics of food; the biological process of eating from mastication through digestion to excretion; food law; nutrition; diet-related diseases; famine and other food disasters; anthropology of food; food education; and so on.
We discussed the literal translation ‘Food Studies’, but he doesn’t think it sounds weighty enough, and would like a snappy one-word term, perhaps a new one. we talked about Foodology and Eatology – but they sound too frivolous. Gastronomy seems focused too much on the pleasures of eating. Gastrography? Is their an existing term that I’m missing that would be more suitable?
Anyway, if there are any imaginative linguists out there who have bright ideas, please let me know and I will pass them on!
Thanks in advance for any inspirations.