Dishes as Performances

Authenticity, Normativity and Improvisation in the Kitchen

  • Alessandro Giovanni Bertinetto University of Turin
Keywords: normativity, improvisation, authenticity, philosophy of food, ontology of music


The relationship between 1. recipes, 2. ingredients and 3. dishes may be understood in analogy to the relationship between elements in the performing arts: for example, in music, 1. musical works (and / or scores), 2. ‘musical ingredients’ (notes, scales, intervals, arpeggios, pauses etc.) and 3. performances. The recipe’s inventor is a ‘composer’ and the cook is a ‘performer’. As I will argue, both in musical performances and in the preparation of dishes, the application of norms requires ‘creative’ adaptation to the concrete specific situation and the final product emerges from practical interactions that involve transformations of their own normative bases. Hence, both in culinary practices and performing arts like music, the improvisational case is paramount for understanding how their normativity, as paradigmatic of the normativity of human practices in general, works.

How to Cite
Bertinetto, A. (2020). Dishes as Performances. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 13(38), 111-142. Retrieved from