The Academy’s research and study of food culture also involves intense convivial activity, facilitating socialisation and a lively exchange of ideas between Academicians while, importantly, investigating, understanding and monitoring restaurants in each territory.
In practical terms, the Symposiarch, an Academician chosen anew for each gathering, selects a restaurant within the Delegation’s territory and agrees upon a menu with its chef, carefully following precise criteria. Participants use a score sheet to assess the chef’s ability to interpret the menu, the ingredients’ quality, the wine pairings, the venue’s hospitality and ambiance, and the value for money.
The Symposiarch’s painstaking event-planning – by choosing, agreeing upon and pre-tasting the menu and illustrating its philosophy – and the participants’ detailed and rigorous assessment constitute, among the Academy’s activities, a conscientious commitment to oversee the restaurateur’s offerings and ability, stimulating restaurants to maintain ever-higher standards of quality in the most general sense of the word.
Convivial gatherings are often enriched by cultural activities entrusted to knowledgeable Academicians and qualified speakers.
The Ecumenical Dinner
The convivial gatherings culminate in the yearly Ecumenical Dinner. Held on the same day in every Delegation’s territory as a variegated celebration of the annual theme, which informs not only the menu but also the speakers’ and other participants’ contributions, the Ecumenical Dinner is a lively opportunity for cultural edification.
It is a chance to unite all Delegations, concretely and in spirit, around the annual theme, chosen by the Franco Marenghi Study Centre, in order to celebrate it gastronomically as well as historically, environmentally and socially. But each Delegation interprets it through its distinctive recipes and menus, thereby illustrating the diversity of our territories’ traditions and cultures.
To pursue their institutional goals, alongside their intense convivial gatherings the Academy’s Delegations undertake to study the various facets of local cuisine, through reflection, writings and meetings. Delegations and Legations located abroad mainly exert themselves to defend the authenticity of Italian cuisine, often subjected to dubious distortions.