Dal cibo nazionale al cibo globale La digestione letteraria di un pasto storico
Grose, Madeleine Macht
In this thesis I explore the evolution of Italian culinary identity from the period of Italy’s unification to the present. In order to investigate this topic I use a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from historical, anthropological, and literary theory. I identify the social and political factors that have contributed to the construction of Italian food identity, thus creating over time, both in Italy and around the world, a myth of Italian food associated with purity, simplicity, local delicacies, tradition, and family.This thesis is divided into two major sections. In the first section, through an analysis of selected literary texts, I explore the role of food in important historical periods: Italian unification, futurism, fascism, the post WWII economic boom, and internal immigration beginning in the mid 1980s. I use a literary approach because fictional works provide insight into sentiments, atmospheres, and attitudes surrounding food culture that history is often unable to capture. Also, I demonstrate the ways in which these literary texts not only represent Italian food culture but also contribute to its construction. Finally, in the second and much briefer section, I explore the ways in which the formation of Italian food culture as evidenced by my historical and literary analysis has laid the foundation for the social and political organization Slow Food which embodies and promotes the virtues of the “traditional” Italian way of eating (local, natural, pure foods) as a solution to current social and environmental problems associated with industrial agriculture. I maintain that while Slow Food is often too idealistic and not practical enough to offer any singular solution to the global environmental crisis, the movement has been fundamental in promoting dialogue concerning this crisis.
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