Chapter

Setting the Table

Douglas Harper and Palrizia Faccioli

in The Italian Way

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780226317243
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317267 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226317267.003.0001
Setting the Table

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Italy is famous for its cuisine, but most tourists must be content to sample Italian food in pizzerias, trattorie, and restaurants. This book is a dialogue between two sociologists from the same generation sharing similar intellectual interests. The book first discusses Italian food in the contexts of regional and national identity, scarcity and plenty, and the sacred and profane. It then turns to the study of love, power, and labor. These themes help us to understand the motivation and organization that lies behind the creation of Italian meals. The book explains how women's roles have evolved in recent history and how family members define their places in the family division of labor. The second section of the book begins with the study of how Italians make food in both material and cultural ways. The role of structure in the organization of food-based social life and the simultaneous improvisation that it plays against are examined. Finally, the book explains how the people studied vary in their dedication to cooking and in their commitment to regional cuisine. The project has a national and historical frame, but it is a study of Bologna, a city with an eclectic population and a very particular cuisine.

Keywords: Italy; Italian culture; Italian food; Italian table; Bologna; family; local customs

Chapter.  4060 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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