Advertisement

Diversity of Food Traditions: A Historical Perspective on Invention and Transformation

  • Alessandro Isoni
Chapter
Part of the LITES - Legal Issues in Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies book series (LITES, volume 2)

Abstract

Starting from the concept of “invented traditions” coined by E. J. Hobsbawm and T. O. Ranger in 1983, this contribution examines how the misrepresentation of national histories can be prejudicial. An analysis of how this term may be applied to Ancel Key’s invention of “the Mediterranean diet”, after his 1952 journey to Italy, follows. According to Keys, a Mediterranean diet prevents heart disease, because of the appropriate combination of vegetables, carbohydrates, natural proteins and olive oil, thus explaining the low cholesterol rates in the Mediterranean area compared to those of people living in the US.

However, although Keys’ intuition may be correct from a clinical point of view, his all-encompassing historical reconstruction reveals itself to be an imaginary description of a world that has never existed. This perspective proves to confound classical antiquity with a modern way of life, based on exotic and orientalistic view of the Mediterranean area. While this reconstruction strongly contributed to the declaration of the Mediterranean diet as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2010, it is worth underlining that this decision was made at a time when globalization is widely menacing local communities with well-defined cultural identities.

Keywords

Invented traditions Mediterranean diet Food practises Intangible cultural heritage Globalization 

References

  1. Appadurai A (1996) Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauman Z (1999) In search of politics. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Bellini N (2000) Il marketing territoriale. Sfide per l'Italia nella nuova economia. Franco Angeli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloch M (1949) Apologie pour l’histoire ou métier d'historien. Armand Colin, ParisGoogle Scholar
  5. Bottino G (1973) Saggio su “Il Gattopardo” di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Realizzazioni grafiche artigiana, GenovaGoogle Scholar
  6. Braudel F (1958) Histoire et sciences sociales. La longue durée. Ann ESC 4:725–753Google Scholar
  7. Braudel F (1977–1978) La Mediterranée. L'espace et l'histoire, Les hommes et l'héritage. Arts et Métiers Graphiques, ParisGoogle Scholar
  8. Buckland G, Bach A, Serra-Majem L (2008) Obesity and the Mediterranean diet: a systematic review of observational and intervention studies. Obes Rev 9(6):582–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cantarelli F (2005) I tempi alimentari del Mediterraneo. Cultura ed economia nella storia alimentare dell'uomo. Franco Angeli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  10. Cassano F (2011) Modernizzare stanca. Perdere tempo, guadagnare tempo. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  11. Cassano F, Consolo V (2000) Lo sguardo italiano. Rappresentare il Mediterraneo. Mesogea, MessinaGoogle Scholar
  12. Cassano F, Zolo D (2007) L'alternativa mediterranea. Feltrinelli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  13. Cercola R, Izzo F, Bonetti E (2010) Eventi e strategie di marketing territoriale. I network, gli attori e le dinamiche relazionali. Franco Angeli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  14. Clemente P, Mugnaini F (eds) (2001) Oltre il folklore. Tradizioni popolari e antropologia nella società contemporanea. Carocci, RomaGoogle Scholar
  15. Febvre L (1952) Combats pour l'histoire. Armand Colin, ParisGoogle Scholar
  16. Furet F (1982) L'Atelier de l'histoire. Flammarion, ParisGoogle Scholar
  17. Giancristofaro L (2012) Tomato Day. Il rituale della conserva di pomodoro. Franco Angeli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  18. Gilmour D (2003) L'ultimo gattopardo. Vita di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Feltrinelli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  19. Ginsborg P (1990) A history of contemporary Italy: society and politics: 1943–1980. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Grimaldi P (1990) Il calendario rituale contadino. Il tempo della festa e del lavoro fra tradizione e complessità sociale. Franco Angeli, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  21. Harris M (1998) Good to eat: riddles of food and culture. Waveland Press, Long GroveGoogle Scholar
  22. Hobsbawm EJ, Ranger T (eds) (1983) The invention of tradition. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  23. Keys A (1950) The biology of human starvation. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  24. Keys A (1995) Mediterranean diet and public health: personal reflections. Am J Clin Nutr 61:1321–1323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Keys A, Keys M (1959) Eat well and stay well. Doubleday, Garden CityGoogle Scholar
  26. Keys A, Keys M (1975) How to eat well and stay well: the Mediterranean way. Doubleday, Garden CityGoogle Scholar
  27. Keys A, Fidanza F, Scardi V et al (1954) Studies on serum cholesterol and other characteristics on clinically healthy men in Naples. Arch Int Med 93:328–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kromhout D, Menotti A, Blackburn H (2002) Prevention of coronary heart disease: diet, lifestyle and risk factors in the seven countries study. Kluwer, NorwellCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. La Vecchia C, Bosetti C (2006) Diet and cancer risk in Mediterranean countries: open issues. Public Health Nutr 9(8A):1077–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lanza Tomasi G (2001) I luoghi del Gattopardo. Sellerio, PalermoGoogle Scholar
  31. Latouche S (1999) Le Défi de Minerve. Rationalité occidentale et raison méditerranéenne. La Découverte, ParisGoogle Scholar
  32. Latouche S (2011) Vers une societé d'abondance frugale. Contresens et controverses sur la décroissance. Mille et une nuits, ParisGoogle Scholar
  33. Mackenback JP (2007) The Mediterranean diet story illustrates the “why” questions are as important as the “how” questions in disease explanation. J Clin Epidemiol 60:105–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mancini M, Stiemler J (2004) Diet for preventing cardiovascular diseases: light from Ancel keys, distinguished centenarian scientist. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 14:52–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mariotti L (2013) La convenzione sul patrimonio intangibile e i suoi criteri di valorizzazione, tutela e protezione. Voci Ann sci um 10:88–97Google Scholar
  36. Martinoni R (2011) Troppo poco pazzi. Leonardo Sciascia nella libera e laica Svizzera. Olschki, FirenzeGoogle Scholar
  37. Masi G (1996) Come leggere Il Gattopardo di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Mursia, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  38. Montanari M (1997) L'Europa a tavola. Storia dell'alimentazione dal Medioevo a oggi. Laterza, Roma-BariGoogle Scholar
  39. Moro E (2013) La dieta mediterranea tra i presocratici e l'UNESCO. Retoriche di ancestralizzazione e politiche di patrimonializzazione Voci Ann sci um 10:111–122Google Scholar
  40. Moro E (2014) La dieta mediterranea. Mito e storia di uno stile di vita. Il Mulino, Bologna 2014Google Scholar
  41. Nestle M (1995) Mediterranean diets: historical and research overview. Am J Clin Nutr 61:1313–1320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nigro SS (2012) Il Principe fulvo. Sellerio, PalermoGoogle Scholar
  43. Orlando F (1998) L’intimità e la storia. Lettura del “Gattopardo”. Einaudi, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  44. Pugliese Carratelli G (1980) Tra Cadmo e Orfeo. Contributi alla storia civile e religiosa dei Greci d'Occidente. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  45. Rubba R, Mancini FP, Gentile M, Mancini M (2007) The Mediterranean diet in Italy: an update. World Rev Nutr Diet 97:85–113Google Scholar
  46. Scepi G, Petrillo PL (2012) La dimensione culturale della dieta mediterranea patrimonio immateriale dell'umanità. In: Golinelli GM (ed) Patrimonio culturale e creazione di valore. Verso nuovi percorsi. Giuffré, Milano, pp 247–273Google Scholar
  47. Scovazzi T (2012) La definizione di patrimonio culturale intangibile. In: Golinelli GM (ed) Patrimonio culturale e creazione di valore. Verso nuovi percorsi. Giuffré, Milano, pp 151–186Google Scholar
  48. Scovazzi T, Ubertazzi B, Zagato L (eds) (2012) Il patrimonio culturale intangibile nelle sue diverse dimensioni. Giuffré, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  49. Skounti A, Tebbaa O (2011) De l'immaterialité du patrimoine culturel. UNESCO/Université Cadi Ayyad Marrakech, MarrakechGoogle Scholar
  50. Stamler J (2013) Toward a modern Mediterranean diet for the 21st century. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 23:1159–1162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tomasi di Lampedusa G (1958) Il Gattopardo. Feltrinelli, Milano (English Translation by Colquhoun A (1960) The Leopard, Collins, London)Google Scholar
  52. Toshima H, Koga Y, Blackburn H (eds) (1994) Lessons for science from the seven countries study: a 35-year collaborative experience in cardiovascular disease epidemiology. Springer, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  53. Trichopoulou A, Vasolopoulou E (2000) Mediterranean diet and longevity. Br J Nutr 84:205–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Truswell AS (2010) Cholesterol and beyond. The research on the diet and coronary heart disease 1900–2000. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  55. UNESCO (2010) Nomination file 00394. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php. Accessed 10 Jan 2016
  56. Vitello A (2008) Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: il Gattopardo segreto. Sellerio, PalermoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Isoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of History, Society and Human StudiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

Personalised recommendations