The Mediterranean Diet is a millenary lifestyle that was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. In doing so, the UN agency clearly focused on the social engagement produced by a specific way of promoting conviviality, sharing food, harvesting, fishing, and cooking, which had combined to create a substantial traditional heritage. All these elements were very present to Ancel and Margaret Keys, the two American scientists who discovered the Mediterranean Diet in 1951, and who coined the term “Mediterranean Diet” in 1975. The Keys understood from the beginning that the very high rate of longevity in Italy and the absence of cardiovascular diseases in the south of the country are not only due to special food ingredients or cooking secrets, but are also the result of an especially harmonious way of inhabiting the Planet. Today we would say that they lived a Slow Life, in tune with the seasons, creating many good tastes, sharing food at feasts, spending time in conversation, and respecting the environment. In Italy, conviviality and hospitality have always been a dominant issue. All the important moments of life are celebrated at the table, because food is an instrument for reinforcing relations.Two ethnographic case studies have been chosen by the authors as significant examples of conviviality in southern Italy: the Christmas feast in Naples and weddings in the province of Salerno. Both rituals are largely characterized by the exchange of food gifts and greetings, family gatherings, visiting each other, and convivial banquets; collective actions aimed at creating social communion and the community itself. This specific social model, known as Mediterranean Diet, includes a vast number of social practices, rituals, festivities habits, and traditions, involving contemplative moments, which are able to counteract contemporary individualism. For this reason, it deserves special academic attention, and it may stimulate some relevant scientific reflections.

Sharing Food and Conviviality in the Mediterranean Diet. Some Ethnographic Examples

ELISABETTA MORO
2022

Abstract

The Mediterranean Diet is a millenary lifestyle that was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. In doing so, the UN agency clearly focused on the social engagement produced by a specific way of promoting conviviality, sharing food, harvesting, fishing, and cooking, which had combined to create a substantial traditional heritage. All these elements were very present to Ancel and Margaret Keys, the two American scientists who discovered the Mediterranean Diet in 1951, and who coined the term “Mediterranean Diet” in 1975. The Keys understood from the beginning that the very high rate of longevity in Italy and the absence of cardiovascular diseases in the south of the country are not only due to special food ingredients or cooking secrets, but are also the result of an especially harmonious way of inhabiting the Planet. Today we would say that they lived a Slow Life, in tune with the seasons, creating many good tastes, sharing food at feasts, spending time in conversation, and respecting the environment. In Italy, conviviality and hospitality have always been a dominant issue. All the important moments of life are celebrated at the table, because food is an instrument for reinforcing relations.Two ethnographic case studies have been chosen by the authors as significant examples of conviviality in southern Italy: the Christmas feast in Naples and weddings in the province of Salerno. Both rituals are largely characterized by the exchange of food gifts and greetings, family gatherings, visiting each other, and convivial banquets; collective actions aimed at creating social communion and the community itself. This specific social model, known as Mediterranean Diet, includes a vast number of social practices, rituals, festivities habits, and traditions, involving contemplative moments, which are able to counteract contemporary individualism. For this reason, it deserves special academic attention, and it may stimulate some relevant scientific reflections.
978-981-19-1047-0
MEDITERRANEAN DIET, CONVIVIALITY, CILENTO, UNESCO, ANCEL KEYS
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/29334
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