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Italian Identity in the Kitchen, or Food and the Nation$
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Massimo Montanari

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160841

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160841.001.0001

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Before There Was an Italy There Was a Europe

Before There Was an Italy There Was a Europe

(p.1) Before There Was an Italy There Was a Europe
Italian Identity in the Kitchen, or Food and the Nation

Massimo Montanari

Columbia University Press

This chapter provides a history of the emergence of an “Italian” culinary culture. The conflict/encounter between Romans who favored bread, wine and oil, and “barbarians” who consumed meat and milk, led to the formation of the “agro-forest-pastoral” new model of production, in which bread and grains correspond with meat and dairy products. This phenomenon was accelerated by the spread of Christianity, which imposed models of common behavior on the peoples of Europe. The traditional symbols of Mediterranean civilization—bread, wine, and oil—became cult emblems and instruments of the new religion. Christianity also introduced the obligations of alimentary alternation determined by the liturgical calendar, differentiating the days and periods of “fat” when meat could be eaten or was encouraged to mark holidays, from the days and periods of “lean” when meat had to be replaced with vegetables, fish, or dairy products.

Keywords:   Italian culinary culture, Romans, barbarians, agro-forest-pastoral, Christianity, alimentary alternation, periods of fat, periods of lean

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