Food History and Culture
Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course the student will be able
- to report the general outlines of the Food History in Europe from the classical age to the present day; to present the evolution of the gastronomic culture in Europe from the classical age to the present day; to make an appropriate use of the specific vocabulary of the historical disciplines
- to recognize different kinds of written and iconographic sources concerning the Food History, to place them in space and time and to produce a sufficiently articulated discourse aware of the social and cultural context that generated them
- to recognize the relationship between structures and exercise of power and production, transformation, distribution and fruition of food from the late antiquity to the contemporary world.
- to set and carry out a basic historical investigation concerning specif issues about the Food History
- to find sources and basic bibliography referring to a specific field of investigation, thanks to a critical ability that allows the student to distinguish among scientifically valid texts, informative texts, unverifiable informations.
Knowledge of the Italian language; basic notions of Italian and European Geography; general outlines of European History (V-XXI centuries).
Course contents summary
The course is divided into three parts:
Thinking about food: from classical age to contemporary age
Food history in Europe (V-XXI centuries)
Economic integration and food: breeding and cheese production in medieval Lombardy
In the first part the teacher will introduce and discuss on the one hand the medical and philosophical reflection concerning food and the evolution of the taste from classical age to the present day in Europe; on the other hand, the convivial practices and the identity elements linked to cuisine, with comparative examples from the Chinese area.
In the second part the focus will be on food consumption, with regard to the demographic curve, the economic conjunture and the social, political and institutional changes in Europe (V-XXI centuries).
In the third part the analysis of a geographically and chronologically defined context will add concreteness and methodological awareness into the notions previously acquired. Once outlined a general framework of the agro-pastoral activities from the VIII to the XVI century in the Lombard area, sheep and cattle breeding will be considered with a special focus on the cheese production, the typologies of cheese, their merchantability, the dietary intake.
All the students are required to study the following texts:
M. Montanari, La fame e l'abbondanza. Storia dell'alimentazione in Europa, Laterza, Roma- Bari (varie ristampe)
M. Montanari, Il cibo come cultura, Laterza, Roma-Bari (varie ristampe)
Furthermore, attending students must choose and study ONE of the following readings; students who cannot attend the classes must choose and study TWO of the following readings:
A Companion to Food in the Ancient World, ed. J. Wilkins - R. Nadeau, Wiley Blackwell, Chichester 2015 (pp. 1-282)
B. Laurioux, Manger au Moyen Age : Pratiques et discours alimentaires en Europe au XIVe et XVe siècles, Paris 2013
M. Montanari, Gusti del Medioevo. I prodotti, la cucina, la tavola, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2012 insieme a
M. Montanari, Alimentazione e cultura nel Medioevo, Laterza, Roma-Bari (varie ristampe)
F. Braudel, Civiltà materiale, economia, capitalismo (secoli XV-XVIII). Le strutture del
quotidiano, Einaudi, Torino (varie ristampe)
A. Toaff, Mangiare alla giudia. La cucina ebraica in Italia dal Rinascimento all’età moderna, Bologna 20112
Il mondo in cucina. Storia, identità, scambi, a cura di M. Montanari, Roma-Bari 2006
S. Pinkard, A Revolution in Taste. The Rise of French Cuisine, 1650-1800
Storia d'Italia. Annali 13. L'alimentazione, a cura di A. Capatti - A. De Bernardi - A. Varni, Einaudi, Torino 1998 (Introduzione; saggi di: M. L. Betri, V. Zamagni, F. Chiapparino, G. Gallo et al., G. Moricola, G. Pedrocco, P. Sorcinelli, P. Corti, A. Capatti)
I. Naso, Università e sapere medico nel Quattrocento. Pantaleone da Confienza e le sue opere, Cuneo 2000
Frontal lessons. During the classes the teacher will introduce and analyze written and iconographic sources uploaded on the e-learning website Elly.
Assessment methods and criteria
Written examination in Italian with ten multiple choice questions; two semi-closed questions; one open-ended question concerning the additional reading.
Students who cannot attend the classes:
Written examination in Italian with five multiple choice questions; one semi-closed question; two open-ended questions concerning the two additional readings.
The accuracy of the grammar and spelling will be closely assessed. Attending students are required to demonstrate a clear understanding of themes and issues analyzed during the classes.