Why have such a distinguished people like the Italians chosen to represent themselves through their cuisine? Why could a humble food like pasta advance to become the most “Italian” food item? Umbra Professor Peter Fischer (History and Culture of Food in Italy) posed (and answered) these questions and others last night in his lecture. Fischer argued that starting with Artusi and his historical project of a “culinary Risorgimento” over the definition of a unified Italian cuisine in the Little Italies of early 20th century America, up to the development of a pronounced culinary conservatism in post WWII Italy, the construction of a common Italian culinary identity became the nucleus around which Italians where able to create a sense of distinction and resistance to cultural assimilation in a modernizing and globalizing world.
The lecture was well-attended by both Umbra students and faculty, as well as by the public. The lecture was part of a series, a collaboration between the Umbra Institute and a local foundation.