When did pasta and pizza become synonymous for the "Italian way of life"? When did Italians start to think themselves as a people of macaroni and pizza eaters? And why have pizza and pasta succeeded world-wide to such an extent that today in the United States or France people don't think of them in terms of an ethnic food, but as a popular and at same time fashionable food? This book retraces the cultural and anthropological roots of the Italian way to food, showing how pasta has become, during the Italian Risorgimento, part of the process of inventing a common identity to all the Italians. An otherwise fragile and fragmented unity has been transformed in a country where Mediterranean lifestyle has become the model for the whole Peninsula. At the beginning of the century, with the great Italian emigration overseas, pasta and pizza have played a mayor role of being a unifying food for the migrants as well as an extraordinary case of cultural contamination. Italian food has left "little Italies" to become fashionable merchandise, the first real "made in Italy". Behind this success there are some cultural reasons: pasta and pizza suggest a way of thinking and a way of life as well: where domestic values - la cucina di mamma - and aesthetics - pasta is an aesthetic solution for hungry people - go together. Pasta and pizza are a fascinating example of how much food can become cultural identity and how it can provoke cross-cultural exchanges.
Contents: Foreword: Our History "al dente". - 1. The creation of a food common to all the Italians. 2. Pasta and pizza in the world: the great emigration. - 3. A childish digression. - 4. Eating and thinking "Italian".
Franco La Cecla is researcher at the Institute of Communication studies at the University of Bologna.