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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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How a National Stereotype Arose

(p.41) Macaroni-eaters
Italian Identity in the Kitchen, or Food and the Nation

Massimo Montanari

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how Italians became stereotyped as “macaroni-eaters,” or pasta-eaters. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the importance of pasta increased when production problems and the inefficiency of the public market in Naples caused the shortage of meat and vegetables that were mainstays of the popular diet. This resulted in the heavy shift to carbohydrates, causing bread and pasta to become increasingly dominant. Pasta began to be produced at lower costs, encouraging its promotion as a “basic” food. The pairing of pasta and cheese, dominated over the traditional duality of cabbage and meat: a dietary solution that assured an adequate intake of calories as well as the desired feeling of satiety. Consequently, macaroni became synonymous with Naples. To eat macaroni suggests sharing a culture, thereby transforming the symbol of Naples into a symbol of the Nation.

Keywords:   macaroni-eaters, pasta-eaters, pasta, Naples, bread, macaroni

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