Course/Lab Fee: 400 Euro for all field trips and workshops
This course is the “core course” of the Food Studies curriculum at Umbra Institute.
In the last twenty years historians have turned with ever more interest to food as a key for understanding the past. Italy is particularly interesting in this respect. Modern Italian identity is based, in large part, on food. And many Italian ‘staples’ from pasta to olive oil, from ice-cream to wine, from pizza to risotto, have interesting stories that give insights into Italian culture and Italian history. Our historical review will look at Italian food in prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and more recent times.
This four-credit class will feature not only more conventional power-point based lectures but also an extensive schedule of field trips and food tastings. The field trips include an overnight trip to Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, Italy’s culinary heartland, and feature visits to Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar cooperatives, as well as Barilla’s hyper-modern pasta plant. It is followed by a day trip to Rome to explore the Eternal City’s markets and trattorias, as well as a truffle-hunting expedition in the Umbrian hills and a day working the olive harvest. Students will also get deeper into Italy’s modern food culture with a series of seven food tastings, each a kind of culinary practicum that combines history and biochemistry with sampling a wide variety of foods or beverages. The food products that are the subject of the tastings are coffee, wine, olive oil, bread, gelato, and cheese.
Students will purchase a specially prepared course packet.