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Friday, March 15, 2013

Italian Food and "Authenticity"

"As noted by Theodor Bestor:

[...] historically derived cultural orientations help shape contemporary institutions and behavior, but their role is not determinative. In other words, often what is most important about the past is the present-day perception of it. (2004, 16)

In Italy, five hundred years ago, pasta was not an everyday dish and it was supposed to boil for at least two hours. That is more than overcooked for today's standard al dente, requiring between five or ten minutes boiling time. Contemporary Italian cuisine is perceived as a dish of pasta al dente and Italians as avid pasta eaters. In the past, the Neapolitans used to be called "leaf eaters" because of a diet based on vegetables, but today they are known as maccheroni and pizza devotees...

Restaurateurs, chefs and the like build and draw on cultural capital in order to make claims of authenticity. As noted by Zukin (2009), authenticity entails power. Power, in this case, is given by the ability to be considered an authentic Italian chef, restaurateur, or pizza chef by customers and among other chef/restaurateurs. As a recognized depository of authenticity, the establishment is given the opportunity to run what will be perceived as an authentically Italian operation"

--- Pizza and Pizza Chefs in Japan: A Case of Culinary Globalization / Rossella Ceccarini
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