Magic Harvest

Magic Harvest : Food, Folklore and Society

4.33 (9 ratings by Goodreads)
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"The Magic Harvest" is a rich and wide-ranging account of the history of popular beliefs about food in Europe. Focusing on Italy, Camporesi examines the social symbolism of food, and its associated rituals. He shows how the act of eating at weddings and seasonal feasts was seen as a metaphor for copulation; how Christmas and Easter were marked by special cakes rich in eggs, symbolizing renewal; how bread was viewed as a magic talisman against the forces of darkness; and how the harvest was regarded as the offspring of a fertile Earth which yielded up its fruits. All this rich and varied symbolism, he suggests, has become an opaque enigma for us today. Camporesi describes the various diets of the preindustrial age, from the peasant rituals which revolved around a great cooking-pot suspended from the chimney, simmering continuously over the fire without regard to the changing seasons, to the bourgeois cuisine of the nineteenth century, catalogued in the cookery book of Pellegrino Artusi, the 'Italian Mrs. Beeton'. In "The Magic Harvest" Camporesi once again explores the margins of official history.
This original and penetrating study of the dietary systems, rituals and beliefs associated with food will be welcomed by students and researchers in social and cultural history, as well as anyone interested in the history of food and its preparation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 158.5 x 236.5 x 25.9mm | 562.46g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0
  • 0745608353
  • 9780745608358

Table of contents

Part I:1. Bread and Death: Food and Peasant Rituals in Italy.2. The Two Faces of Time: The City Calendar and the Country Calendar.3. The Setting of the Moon: Wine, the Vine and the New Science.4. Food and Popular Culture.5. Dietary Geography and Social History.6. City Cooking and Country Cooking.Part II:7. Bourgeois Cooking in the 19th Century: Between Tradition and Renewal.8. Concentrated Broth.9. The Demon of the Hearth.10. Shopping for Food.11. The Age of the Soya Bean.12. The Great Transformation.13. Born Under Libra.Appendices.1. Diet and Literature.2. List of Authors.Notes and References.Glossary.Index.
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Review quote

"The Magic Harvest is a concentrated broth of pieces every bit as rich as the cuisine that forms the focus of [Camporesi's] study. There is a convincing unity in these essays. Together, they offer a scholarly history of the slow shifts in the dietary geography and regimes of Italy to the present, a masterly display of the interdisciplinary skills food history demands and of the exciting range of questions it poses, and, not least, a provocative argument about the reasons for, and costs of, the comparatively recent 'invention' of a national 'Italian' cuisine. Coming after Bread of Dreams, this book confirms Piero Camporesi's importance in the evolving field of the history of food." John Walter, University of Essex "A collection of fascinating scholarly essays ... excellent insight into a culture which most people may only rather simplistically associate with a relatively scant diet of pasta, pizza, tripe and escalopes of veal." The Good Book Guide "Piero Camporesi is one of the most stimulating and path-breaking historians." Roy Porter
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About Piero Camporesi

Piero Camporesi is Professor of Italien Literature at the University of Bologna.
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Rating details

9 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 56% (5)
4 22% (2)
3 22% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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