Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence

Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence

Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence

Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence


In this delicious book, noted food scholar Carole M. Counihan presents a compelling and artfully told narrative about family and food in late 20th-century Florence. Based on solid research, Counihan examines how family, and especially gender have changed in Florence since the end of World War II to the present, giving us a portrait of the changing nature of modern life as exemplified through food and foodways.


Writing this book has been a long journey. I spent the period from 1968 to 1984 immersed in Italian culture and the Italian family described here, the twenty-three living relatives of a Florentine I call Leonardo, my former boyfriend, fidanzato, and briefly husband. I had been a student at Stanford-in-Italy in 1968, and after college graduation in 1970, I returned to Florence and lived for the next three years in Via S. Ilario a Colombaia, just off the Via Senese, a few hundred yards south of the Porta Romana. I met Leonardo in September 1970 and we spent the next thirteen years living together in Florence, Sardinia, and Mass-achusetts, while I pursued a doctorate in anthropology and he a bachelor's and master's in fine arts. During the summers of 1982 and 1984,1 tape-recorded formal, food-centered life histories with all of Leonardo's living relatives (see Figure 1). I am grateful for the openness and affection they showed me during the project and throughout all the years of our acquaintance. They cooperated fully in the interviews and gave me permission to write about them. When I returned to Florence in March 2003, they again welcomed me warmly and shared memories and thoughts about their everyday lives.

My experience in Italy contributed to my life in many ways. After traveling to Sardinia in the early 1970s, I became fascinated with the land and the people and decided to become an anthropologist to explore Sardinian culture further. I began graduate school in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts in 1974 and benefited from the European Studies Program and a Fulbright Grant to conduct doctoral dissertation research in Bosa, Sardinia, in 1978-79. In 1982,1 inaugurated the food-centered life history research in Florence that has finally resulted in this book. I owe my fortuitous decision to study food to the Italians' constant confabulations about eating, which have resulted in years of good eating, spirited talking, rich memories, and fruitful scholarship.

As I was embarking on a career in cultural anthropology, the study of food and culture was simultaneously flowering. I am grateful to many scholars whose work has contributed to my own, and I particularly want to recognize Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Penny Van Esterik, Amy Bentley, Warren Belasco, Sidney Mintz, George Armelagos, Françoise Sabban, Silvano Serventi, Martin Bruegel, Steven Kaplan, Maurice Aymard, and Alberto Capatti.

Many people contributed to this book. My husband, anthropologist Jim Taggart, read and commented on several drafts, and for his wisdom, fine critical ear, and years of support, I am deeply grateful. Carol Helstosky, Sabina Magliocco, Gigliola Panico, and Betsy Whitaker read the complete first draft of the manuscript, gave invaluable feedback, spurred me onward, and made

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.