Constructing Food the Italian Way

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:
Constructing Food the Italian Way

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This chapter focuses on Italian food itself rather than the semiotics of food. The raw materials for Italian food are available in other parts of the world, but in Italy they are constructed differently, carrying their Italianness in how they are made, used, combined, and defined. The chapter offers sketches of several iconic Italian foods assembling in the process a simple Italian meal. It moves from the simplest foods, those eaten as harvested, to the most complex, which are industrially manufactured. Italians value freshness, simplicity, and quality in their foods, and they especially value their own versions of particular foods that produce distinctive tastes and combine to make particularly Italian dishes and meals. The chapter explores the social and economic forces that, over the course of history, influence how raw materials become food. This is a political and cultural phenomenon, as well as a simple matter of turning material into edible products. The chapter describes some battles that are being waged over who gets to control the symbolic dimension of Italian food as well as the commodities they represent.

Keywords: Italy; Italian culture; Italian food; raw materials; social forces; economic forces

Chapter.  16276 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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