University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Mediterranean Food Culture

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit will explore anthropological theories about food and methods related to the study of beliefs and behaviour surrounding food production, distribution and consumption, with case material from specific areas including Malta, other Mediterranean islands and part of the mainland. The Unit will look at some of the main factors leading to a globalization of food and aims to classify the changes and notes their concrete and specific impacts on everyday eating. The Unit is bound to rely heavily on historical factors, but will also look at relatively recent food-related events especially at the way cooking methods transformed traditional food over time and the changing patterns of eating behaviour taking specific regions, and particular foods as case-studies.

This Unit also offers a critical examination of the political, economic ,social and environmental influences on the cultural history of European and Mediterranean food and gastronomy. Adopting a chronological approach, food and gastronomy are used as a 'lens' to highlight particular cultural trends influencing contemporary food production, distribution and consumption.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Evaluate the principles of gastronomy, historic and contemporary;
- Investigate and evaluate the concepts of European and Mediterranean gastronomy and how it impacts on modern society;
- Analyze the cultural meaning of food and how these influence what we eat;
- Describe the interaction between socialisation, culture and food;
- Identify the methods used in anthropological fieldwork and writing by conducting a study on food, culture, and a specific case-study on Malta or elsewhere;
- Recognize the various Mediterranean cuisines; their roots in specific environments; their role in social relations and ideology; and their evolution, especially when exported by emigrants to the country of adoption.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Compare and contrast dietary patterns through time;
- Demonstrate similarity and change within the relationship of European and Mediterranean culture and cooking;
- Show proficiency in explaining the cause and effect of important political, economic and social events on food systems and customs;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the role of food as another medium employed to discuss important anthropological topics such as ritual, exchange and memory.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- J.-L. Flandrin - M. Montanari (eds.), Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present, Columbia University Press 1999.
- Belasco, W - Scranton, P. (eds.), Food Nations, New York, Routledge, 2002.
- P. Scholliers (ed.), Food, Drink and Identity. Cooking, Eating and Drinking in Europe Since the Middle Ages (Oxford, Berg, 2001).
- F. Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism 15th – 18th century: vol.i The Structures of everyday life. London, 1981.
- D. Grigg, “The Nutritional Transition in Western Europe,” Journal of Historical Geography 21/3 (1995), pp. 247-261.
- P. Saunier, M. Bruegel, “Nascita e sviluppo dell’industria alimentare,” in Massimo Montanari et Françoise Sabban (eds.), Atlante dell'alimentazione e della Gastronomia, Turin, UTET, 2004, vol. 1, pp. 374-399.
- A. Den Hartog, ‘Food Habits in a Situation of Crisis: The Unemployed and Their Food in the Years 1930-1939 in the Netherlands’, Ernährungs-Umschau, no. 30 (1983), pp. 33-38.
- Alberto Capatti & Massimo Montanari, Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, New York, Columbia University Press, 2001.
- Harvey Levenstein, “The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-1930,” Food & Foodways, 1, 1, 1985, pp.1-24.
- Kenneth Gambin - Noel Buttigieg, Storja tal-Kultura ta` l-Ikel f' Malta, PIN Publications, 2003.
- G. Bonello, Histories of Malta. Deceptions and Perceptions. Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, 2000.
- C. Cassar, 'Nutrition in a central Mediterranean island community: Malta in medieval and early modern times', Rivista di Antropologia, Vol. 76, 153-62.
- Counihan, Carole. 1999. The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning and Power. NY: Routledge.
- Counihan, Carole & Penny Van Esterik, eds. 1997 (2nd ed 2008). Food and Culture: A Reader. NY: Routledge.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Noel Buttigieg
Carmel Cassar (Co-ord.)

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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