History of Italian Food and Wine

Laura-ProsperiInstructor: Dr Laura Prosperi

Summer School

University of Pisa/ Gambero Rosso Catania 2015

Main Goals:

The course aims to provide keys to the understanding of and a critical approach to the present global food scenario. The enrichment of the students’ educational background is achieved thanks to a range of notions and concepts mainly provided by a set of different historical contexts. The anthropological and sociological approaches are presented along with their most relevant food debates.


Key aspects of Etruscan diet; Classical Greece and Ancient Rome; The Symposium Culture; Food issues concerning the first centuries of the Middle Ages; Around anno Mille, the year 1000: technical limits in food production and problems concerning food supply in medieval Europe; Vines and vineyards in the Middle Ages. Main aspects of the early cookbooks (13th -15th centuries); Dietetic knowledge: disciplinary framework and key concepts, scholarly knowledge and dietetic popular beliefs; Origin of proverbs on food; Influences of Catholic Church in European eating habits; The court table in the Renaissance period: codes and practices; Drinking alcohol in the Early Modern Age. The seventeenth century: the spread of new foods. Tracks of cultural resistance and the new food fever all over Europe; The colonial beverage boom: new food habits in the Old Continent; The nineteenth century: technological developments with a strong social impact on food consumption;

Origins of different forms of catering; Modern cuisine: the regional recipes. Wine Making: technical improvements and new technologies. The rise of the Mediterranean diet: historical myth and critical points; The twentieth century: a comparison between medical reasons and morality; Standardization of food consumption;

The current food scenarios: the global key challenges; A National issue: criminal power and the Italian food supply chain; A global Issue: Food loss and food waste around the world.

Introduction to modern anthropological and sociological debate on food

Hierarchies and food taboos around the world; New forms of food consumption [with particular attention to the lessons of M. Douglas, M. Harris, C. Fischler]