Celebrating Community and Cuisine: Bringing the Past Alive in Festival

By Maria Teresa Fiumerodo.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the festive event of the Sagre, a weekend celebration of traditional foods and customs in Asti, Italy. It is a fair for some forty villages neighboring Asti to bring their traditions, both gastronomic and agricultural, to the city. The weekend includes the serving of food in addition to a live exhibit of the past: a pageant re-creating the traditional life ways of la campagna, the countryside. The two main attractions of the event are the food and the pageant. I suggest that both function in expressing and strengthening regional identity in various ways; not to mention the preservation of a nostalgic relationship with the past. Each village participates with floats and displays as participants step out of the present by using articles of clothing and other items from the past. The parade themes consist of demonstrations and re-enactments of peasant traditions in addition to showcasing the folkloric ways of the past. With regards to gastronomy, the preparation, presentation and consumption of these foods provide a connection to traditions and to the land. This paper explores the issues of re-creating the past within the liminal boundaries of festival, not to mention the importance memory and nostalgia plays in the preservation and creation of community identity through foodways.

Keywords: Tradition, Identity, Foodways

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.21-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.039MB).

Dr. Maria Teresa Fiumerodo

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Anthropology Department, Ventura College, Ventura, California, USA

I am a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at Ventura College in Ventura, California. In 2008, I completed my Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles in Culture and Performance (Folklore emphasis). My research emphasis includes cultural studies, folklore, festival, ritual and religion, ethnic/regional/national identity issues and foodways. I have conducted fieldwork primarily in Italy focusing on local and regional food traditions.