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Experiencing the Spectacle of Fine Dining. New Forms of Festivity in Sofia, Bulgaria and Diversion of Public Space

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Abstract

This chapter focuses on two forms of appropriation of urban space through new forms of festivity organized around fine eating. Although those new forms intervene with public space and use its ideology, these practices rather question the universal access to it. They are usually organized as private events but insist on a higher, often non-commercial, purpose that adds value to the experience, following the logic of new capitalism. This may be the demonstrative struggle with wastefulness or aestheticization of food consumption in public spaces as a form of creating new experiences. The new media play a crucial role in experiencing and producing those events: from their disclosure and access to the organization of their visual identity.

Keywords

  • New forms of festivity
  • Late capitalism
  • Prosumer
  • Food studies
  • Cultural practices
  • Urban space

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Change history

  • 18 August 2021

    “The original version of this chapter was revised owning to a mistake in the order of authors in Chapter 22 the original chapter was inadvertently published with incorrect author names. The names have been corrected as below:

Notes

  1. 1.

    The paper presents the results from the cooperative research project “New Celebrations: Communities, Identities, Policies in the 21st Century,” funded by the NSF—Ministry of Science and Education, Bulgaria. An earlier and longer version in Bulgarian was published under Velislava Petrova. 2018. “Spektakŭlŭt na iziskanoto khranene zaedno. Novi formi na praznichnost v Sofiya i preobrŭshtane na upotrebite na publichnoto prostranstvo.” Balgarska etnologiya 4.

  2. 2.

    Sofia White Dinners is an event organized by a company that specialized in events management following the now famous example of Diner en blanc. And although Diner en blanc is constantly being used as part of the marketing strategy, the Sofia event is not part of the global network of participating cities.

  3. 3.

    StrEAT festival is organized by a culinary magazine Bacchus. It is taking place for the second consecutive year within the renovated part of the Women’s Market in Sofia.

  4. 4.

    These two forms of celebration organized around food are positioned in the more general frame of celebrations structured around consuming food together in public spaces. My initial idea was to cover also some more events, namely, Disco soup, organized by Slow Food Bulgaria and the events surrounding Jamie’s Food Revolution. But they were dropped for various reasons, Disco Soup did not take place in 2018, and the events surrounding Jamie’s Food Revolution seemed to have lost their festival character and shifted to non-public spaces.

  5. 5.

    A similar mechanism was described by Pierre Bourdieu when analyzing the affirmation of photography as a middle-class art form and practice (Bourdieu 1965).

  6. 6.

    According to a story circulating in the media, the invention of the whole concept is the work of Francois Pasquier. He decided to invite a group of friends, but because of the limited space of his Paris apartment, he brought the gathering outdoor. In order to facilitate the organization, he suggested to the invitees to dress in white so that they can easily recognize and find each other by offering, as a meeting place, the Bologna Forest. There is also an artistic critique of the White diners, Ce soir en noir in Vancouver generated by other critical views of the event, which seems pretentious and segregative.

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Correspondence to Velislava Petrova .

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Petrova, V. (2020). Experiencing the Spectacle of Fine Dining. New Forms of Festivity in Sofia, Bulgaria and Diversion of Public Space. In: Marinescu, V. (eds) Food, Nutrition and the Media. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46500-1_14

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