Design Management MFA Leslie Marticke wonders whether Slow Food chapters help our fast food culture rediscover lost dining traditions.
Food Studies features the voices of volunteer student bloggers from a variety of different food- and agriculture-related programs at universities around the world. Don't miss Leslie's first post, which explains how a trip to Italy inspired her Design Management thesis topic: the impact of Slow Food chapters in the Southern United States.
"The complex codes governing good table manners—elaborated through the centuries and handed down from generation to generation, adapting to changing lifestyles and dominant social groups—could have never developed in a fast food culture." —Daniela Romagnoli, "Mind Your Manners: Etiquette at the Table," in Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present
In my introductory post, I mentioned the notion of life structures: the routines, customs, and traditions that shape our mental and physical environments and help to create order within life’s complex and chaotic systems. After finishing Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari’s Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, I'm beginning to understand the implications of certain life structures on local eating cultures from the earliest civilizations to present society. And much of what was documented on these early forms of conviviality still resonates with Petrini’s original Slow Food philosophy.
This is not unlike the dining room table of the 1950s, where dinnertime meals represented the essence of family life, where bonds were strengthened, identities were created, and traditions were formed. However, dinner is no longer characterized by communal eating practices involving all members of the family, freshly prepared food, and carefully arranged chairs, plates, napkins, and silverware. Today, dinner, in addition to breakfast and lunch, is convenient, cheap, fast, and processed. Patterns of daily life have been transformed in the face of urbanization, industrialization, the increase of women in the paid workforce, and a rise in education levels and standards of living. This is not just a national phenomenon; a global transformation is underway in many areas where food is concerned.
These are the questions I am trying to answer. Focusing on numbers is a typical way of acquiring funding and recognition. Although the impact of Slow Food goes far beyond what numbers can represent, a system of metrics to measure its significance could prove to be a powerful tool for active chapters across the United States and beyond.
All photos, showing dining tables and eating customs around the world, are by the author.