Eat, drink and be merry: reinventing cooking traditions in Istria
Jelena Ivanišević Caput
(Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Paper short abstract:
Today's traditional Istrian cuisine, represented by once festive dishes, is a result of romanticized view of food traditions. Typical dishes are no longer associated with celebration or doing hard labor, but are rather becoming an part of hedonistic or gourmet lifestyles.
Paper long abstract:
As part of the research undertaken for the purposes of the project "Taste of tradition - the specialization program for chefs of traditional cuisine", an ethnological field study of Istrian cuisine was carried out. It re-examines the concepts of indigenous and/or traditional cuisine, its representational and identity roles in today's eating habits, as well as its significance in Istria's tourism. The results of the study, including a cookbook with a limited number of typical Istrian dishes, both everyday and festive, demonstrate conceptual difficulties in the interpretation of traditional cuisine as well as the need to re-evaluate its position with regard to everyday food choices. The gastronomic identity of Istria, today symbolically represented by truffles, Istrian prosciutto, wine and olive oil, is the result of the transformation of private culinary practices, perpetuated through the saying "just like grandma used to make", in which the mechanism of deliberate forgetting plays a large part. That is to say that traditional Istrian cuisine is today represented by once festive dishes, those which used to indicate a respite from humble everyday food, yet today, they are no longer associated with celebration or doing hard labor, but are rather becoming an important part of hedonistic or gourmet lifestyles.
Food utopia and the way out