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CHAPTER 2

A TAXONOMY OF UNELABORATED PRODUCTS

What is the taxonomy of unelaborated products?

After establishing the fundamental concepts, the work then proceeds to define and contextualise the taxonomy of unelaborated products. A multidisciplinary team composed of chefs and scientists with a wide range of specialities has been involved in its development and production, providing rigour and solidarity. This classification system stems from the application of the Sapiens methodology to the study of products used in the fine dining restaurant sector, addressed in the first volume of this work, using more than ninety different classifications. The taxonomy as a whole is based on three fundamental criteria: the biological characteristics of the products, their morphology and the species’ state of domestication.

The main purpose of this work is to offer cooking professionals a useful, coherent and convenient tool that enables them to understand, in a more precise way, the products they use in their professional activity. This taxonomy is envisaged to have a universal scope, given that it includes all unelaborated products, regardless of type or region of origin.

 

The characteristics of this taxonomy

The structure of this taxonomy consists of a hierarchical classification allowing for the detailed study of the morphology of products, from their most general to their most specific parts. These hierarchical levels – called morphological levels – include the products according to the part to which they correspond, thereby creating a structure that offers a broader vision of the product and gives a culinary value to almost all parts, not only those in daily use.

 

The decalogue of the taxonomy of unelaborated products

In this section, we propose a series of elements that gather together the basic premises and describe the fundamental criteria that govern this taxonomy in order to establish the conditions that the products included must present. The first and most significant element of these is to establish their validity for inclusion as unelaborated products.

There is a virtually unimaginable number of products that can be included in a taxonomy. In order to limit ourselves to a reasonable objective, we have grouped together edible products and those products with common culinary applications in the gastronomy of Western Europe, the geographical framework which delimits our study of the fine dining restaurant sector. When designating the taxonomic categories, we have observed that a great diversity of names exist for each morphological part of a product, depending on commercial denomination and colloquial language, and that these vary according to region. This makes it difficult to reach a consensus on the terminology.

In this exploration and in the search for products, reaching a conclusion on the desired final taxonomic category allows different criteria to be applied to each product and their characteristics to be known. Thus, for example, when looking at fruits, stems or leaves, we observe that the criteria available vary, adapting to each category.

 

The limits of unelaborated products

In defining the taxonomy and setting out the parameters differentiating unelaborated products from elaborated ones, we have comprehended the difficulty of unifying criteria and comparing all cases. Realising that the dividing lines between different products are not always well defined, we have developed a concept concerning the limits of unelaborated products, focused on addressing the most contentious cases.

 

Graphic elements to generate codes for understanding the taxonomy

One of the distinctive elements of the taxonomy of unelaborated products is the inclusion of a coding system by means of pictograms, and other graphic elements such as logos and colour matching, which allows each taxonomic category to be assigned its place. Furthermore, it then becomes possible to identify some of the defining characteristics of a product, such as the field to which it belongs, or whether it is a product in regular use or not.

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