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Bem Ceo i ae Ce ae ot ; fe ee ee ie Tas Introduction Food: identity and diversity Fabia Parasecolé Meals unite and divide. They connect those whe share them, confirin their identities as individuals and as a collectivity, and reinforce their mutual bonds. At the same tine, meuls exclude Urose who do not partivipate in them, threatening and negating their very humanity, Food has always been one of the defining aspects of any given social group, whose members acknowledge each other as such by the way they eat, by what they eat, and by what they abhor. The ancient Greeks used to accuse the neighbouring of eal populations they considered “barbarian raw meat. of being unable to share food with their own kind in an orderly way. and even of devouring whatever they had ut hand whenever they éelt the urge. To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is bepween those who have it in common, as a table is located between those who sit around the world, like every in-between, relates and separates at the same time. Hannah Arenut, The funsein condition without waiting for the proper time of day. Centuries fuer, when their empire was threatened by waves oF manic populations, the Romans sustained their posi Hon as self-proclaimed inheritors of the Mediterranean civilisation by upholding a nutritional model based on wine, olive oil and wheat against the Germanic preference for beer, butter and other cereals.” ic onseiousness. i is also paramount to the formation of historical identi~ ties. Within the same popultion, itis not uncommon to think about the past as @ time of perfection and happiness. when food was healthier and tastier. oF. on the other hand, the past can he remembered as a time a ° d o n 0 © © u d ° of hunger and want, For instance. in the 196(s, when their country underwent major industriali- sation and urbanisation, Halians were extremely excited about the increase in their daily consumption, the presence of meat on their tables, and thé adver- tising of new products on TV. They had no nostalgia for a past when most people lived in the country side and food was scarce. Little did they know that a few decades Jater their offspring would idealise a previously bucolic world free of genetically modi- fied organisms. mad cows and all kinds of Jurki dangers, Religions rely om food and eating habits as a means of affirming their norms and idemifying their fol- lowers. In Europe. where the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths have interacted for centuries. each reli- gion has also defined itself in terms of diet and food taboos. The Italian word for aubergine, “melanzana”. comes from the expression “mela insana”, unhealthy Ealymologies All the examples given above reaffirm the fact that food is as exclusive a buman behaviour as language. As Lévi-Strauss has pointed out, “Cooking. it has apple. a definition given to the vegetable because it was widely consumed in Jewish communities, which had in turn adopted it from the Arabs. Social classes were often recognisable from what people aie, and how. At different times, sugar. spices. and more recently truffles and caviar. were adopted as symbols of conspicuous consumption, only to fose their fascination ux precious and rare ingredients when the changing historical situation made those same ingredients cheaper and easy to purchase, Gender identifications are also closely connected to food, Some ingredients. dishes of ways of consumption, have been sexvalised: considered either masculine or feminine. In many cultures women are still in charge of shopping and preparation of meals. if ne longer with growing vegetables and breeding animats, The kitchen has at times become an arena of fernale affir- mation and autonomy in male-dominated societies, Eta la racine de mon nez ly a Vodeur de Pété C'est le style de ma mémoire. Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel, Le style de ma mémoire* never been sufficiently emphasised, is with language a truly universal form of human activity: if there is, no society without a fanguage, nor is there any which