No fat, no sugar, no calories, no eggs, no milk. Today we typically demand that our food be without something. This is the exact opposite of our parents and grandparents, who in times of economic well-being wanted and enjoyed a diet rich in protein, vitamins, butter, and cream. We are almost pathologically obsessed with what we eat, in an attempt to achieve our impossible desire to master reality at least by controlling our food. If "it's all grist to the mill" was our guiding light in times of scarcity, we now take pleasure in fictional cuisine: fake ragouts, imitation tripe, "escaped" clams a deceptive theatre of taste in which a given ingredient is replaced by another. Such culinary trickery, originally developed in order to address the problem of hunger, is a sublime expression of our popular culture, having conquered the highest levels of cookery and achieving a double triumph in terms of ethics and gastronomy.
Marino Niola teaches Anthropology of Symbols, Anthropology of Arts and Performance, and Myths and Rites of Contemporary Gastronomy at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples. He also writes for "la Repubblica", "Le Nouvel Observateur", "Il Caff" (Locarno), and "il Mattino" (Naples).