“Italian Cuisine in the World” at UW-Madison

Last week was the “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To celebrate, two leading scholars of the Mediterranean diet, Prof. Marino Niola and Prof. Elisabetta Moro, gave lectures stressing the connections between food, art, and culture in Italy.

Marino Niola explained why both the Mediterranean Diet and the “Pizzaiuolo” art of making Neapolitan pizza are included in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Niola discussed the link between Italian gastronomy and democracy across centuries, focusing on popular, inexpensive, sustainable, democratic food items such as Neapolitan pizza and pasta, both central in the Mediterranean Diet (defined by Marino Niola and Elisabetta Moro as an “anti-diet”).

Elisabetta Moro discussed the myths, history, symbols, characteristics, and benefits of the Mediterranean Diet which was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. She stressed the conviviality, seasonality, and sustainability of this diet. She explained how two American scientists, Ancel and Margaret Keys, “discovered” the Mediterranean Diet, linking the medical research to the lifestyle of a community in the South of Italy in the 1950s. She invited the audience to consider the Mediterranean Diet as an important sustainable, positive model for health and the future of the planet.

These presentations are just two of the many free and open to the public events that are sponsored by European Studies and other departments at UW-Madison.