Setting the table in Italy

Author: Cristina Nava


The following paper focuses on Italy's present relationship between food consumption patterns - and possible future developments - and shapes and objects used for laying the table. The paper is based on reflections resulting from several researches carried out by Delfo in the area of food evolutions and dynamics that are currently emerging, as well as in the area of changes that are underway and their possible effects on the overall lifestyle and on situations part of everyday life, such as laying the table. One of the initial reflections who gave us the idea of taking part to this meeting is that in today's Italy you can find different food styles - "domestic"/traditional, side by side with those derived from different cultures - reference patterns are evolving and become increasingly flexible, according to new lifestyles and values. This fact is not evidently proven by the way the table is laid, in the objects and shapes that appear on it, which rather are tied to styles and cliches that time did not change. We intended to know whether if it was possible to translate these new patterns into easy, "elastic" shapes that would change according to new food requirements, thereby shifting the change from food to table objects. The paper is divided in two parts: the first part studies the present Italian situation with regards to offer and demand in the area of table objects. The second part highlights evolutions processes currently emerging from food habits and attitudes and how these can be translated into table objects. The conclusions show that it is possible to change shapes/objects modifying "scripts" that haven't changed, by means of reestablishing a connection with a deep- rooted food culture and its primary structure: a new reading of symbolic meanings on the base of new values, still considering increasing pushes toward what is new and beyond local boundaries, preserves its basic philosophy and asserts new individualistic trends that depart from the collective structure and reaffirm the role of food as a familiar and cultural aggregation point

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