Gourmet is a term associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine, which is characterised by refined, even elaborate preparations and presentations of aesthetically balanced meals of several contrasting, often quite rich courses. The term and its associated practices are usually used positively to describe people of refined taste and passion. Source Wikipedia
What Really is Gourmet Food?
Traditionally gourmet food was elitist and only available to the very wealthy due to the scarcity of ingredients, associated costs and that its preparation required highly trained chefs and kitchens.
In more recent times a growing and more wealthy middle class has increased demand for traditional gourmet products which in turn has reduced their cost. In addition the definition of gourmet now encompasses a much broader range of food and drink as consumers either through travel, growing ethnic communities exposing more people to different cuisines and the ever present media has exposed people to a much more varied choice of food and drink.
What is considered gourmet today does vary between individuals and does depend on a number of factors such as lifestyle, socio economic position or where they live. A Parma ham in Parma may be considered everyday but gourmet everywhere else. Today a much broader range of people have access to gourmet food even if it is only consumed on special festive occasions.
Whilst the perception of what is gourmet may vary between individuals certain principles seem to apply: That it contains only the highest quality fresh ingredients.That every part of the recipe is made with these fresh quality ingredients. It is presented nicely in an artful manner. It does not have to be pretentious and importantly it must taste as good or better than it looks!
Today the term is more about pleasure and appreciation than exclusivity or expense.
Some of the best known traditional gourmet foods include foie gras (force-fed fattened goose or duck liver) and pâté (a spread of this liver or other meat), caviar (roe, fish eggs), escargot (prepared snails), truffles (the world's most valuable mushrooms, served shaved), cheeses, including "triple cremes" like brie, and a number of other specialty products. Generally, there is a gourmet equivalent of most foods, including bacon and even candy.