Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

LITR 268 - Italian cultural history: Foods & wines of Italy

Spring 2012

LITR 268 - Italian Cultural History: Foods & Wines of Italy

Prof. Grazia Sotis





Course Description:

The course deals with the history of Italian cuisine and wines through centuries up to our times. It outlines the development and change of taste, how it has been affected and defined by historical events. A dynamic pattern of society is thus given by the intersections among history, culture, food and wines. The course will also offer on-site classes and guest speakers.

Course Outcomes:

  • ·           A knowledge of geographical locations of food and wines
  • ·           An awareness and understanding of taste within its territorial context to show the rich variety of Italian Food and Wines
  • ·           An appreciation of how the migratory process influences and helps shape and define the making of culinary traditions, and the creation of “new” wines
  • ·           An understanding of the specific roles of men and women in the creation of a new “Art” form
  • ·           An understanding of the importance of place (osteria, trattoria, ristorante, tavola calda…) as the workbench for  the success of old and new recipes and wines
  • ·           The ability to distinguish regional taste from Italian taste
  • ·           An historical appreciation of the change in eating and drinking habits in modern Italy, and a knowledge of Italy’s move towards a more ethnical and global taste


This course requires a 35 € fee for wine-tastings during the semester, due by the end of January.
The 35 € fee is non-refundable and must be paid in Rome at the JFRC Business Office.

The course considers on site classes the study trips organized by the center and students’ travels in Italy

Students are asked to write two papers on a topic related to the country, food and wine. The topic is to be agreed with the teacher.

Class attendance is strongly recommended: students are allowed only for three unexcused absences. Failure to take an exam or quiz, unless justified by real necessity (e.g. illness; travel will never be accepted as a reason) brings an F in it. There will be no make-up exams.

Academic Integrity Statement:

“Pursuit of truth is the prime activity in a university community. As a member of this community each student pledges to maintain standards of honesty and integrity in all academic work. Exams: Students must rely exclusively upon their own knowledge. Papers: students must document sources of secondary information. Failure to comply with these standards will result in a failing grade.”

Schedule of classes

1st, 2nd & 3rd week


A Physical and Mental Space

Mr Francesco Fabbretti, our wine expert, will hold a two week session on the history of wine along with wine-tastings

4th week

The Italian Way of Eating


Feb …    

Quiz 1


5th week

The Formation of Taste


6th & 7th week

Communicating Food: The Recipe Collection



Mar …  

Exam 1 (Research paper due)


Mar … – …

Spring Break


8th week

The Sequence of Dishes

Wine lesson and wine tasting


9th week

The Vocabulary of Food

Wine lesson and wine tasting


10th &11th week

The Cook, the Innkeeper, and the Woman of the House


Apr … 

Quiz 2


12th, 13th & 14th week

Science and Technology in the Kitchen & Toward a History of Appetite

Oral presentations

Apr …

Final paper due


May …   

Final Exam



Capatti, Alberto &

Montanari, Massimo                 Italian Cuisine, a Cultural History. New York: C.U.P., 2003

Suggested Readings and Research Books:

Allemandi, Alberto                    Il Museo Immaginario della Pasta (The “Musée Imaginaire” of Pasta). 1995 (bilingual edition)

Artusi, Pellegrino                      L’Arte del Mangiar Bene

Bober, Phyllis Pray                   Art, Culture, and Cuisine: Ancient & Medieval Gastronomy. Chicago: The U.C.P., 1999

Cathiard-Thomas, Mathilde

& Pezard Corinne                     Vinoterapia. Roma: Alberto Castelvecchi Editore, 2007

Camporesi, Piero                     Il brodo indiano. Edonismo e esotismo nel Settecento. Milano: Garzante Editore, 1990

Cipresso, Roberto &

Negri Giovanni                         Vinosofia. Casale Monferrato (Alessandria): Edizioni Piemme,2008

Dickie, John                             Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food. Hodder & Stoughton, 2007

Ficino, Marsilio                         The Book of Life. (A Charles Boer Translation)  Irving, Texas: Spring Publications Inc., 1980

Field, Carol                               In Nonna’s Kitchen. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1997

__________                              The Italian Baker.

__________                              Celebrating Italy.

Galeazzi, Oscar                        Dizionario Gastronomico. Milano: Ulrico Hoepli Editore, 1994

Gentilcore, David.                    Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy.

Marinetti, F.T. & Fallia              La Cucina Futurista. Milano: Viennepierri.Edizioni: 2007

Montanari, Massimo                 Il Formaggio con le Pere. Roma-Bari: Gius. Laterza & Figli, 2008

Petrini, Carlo                             Slow Food: The Case for Taste. New York: C.U.P.

Serventi, Silvano &

Sabban, Francoise                   Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food. New York: C.U.P.

Routh, Shelag & Jonathan       Leonardo’s Kitchen Notebooks. First Published in London: Collins Publishers, 1987

Rebora, Giovanni                     Culture of the Fork. C.U.P.

______________                      Guida ai Vitigni d’Italia. Bra (Cuneo): Slow Food Editore, 2005

Turner, William                         A Book of Wines. New York: ed. Sanford V. Larkey, 1941

Suggested Novels dealing with Food:

Barbery, Muriel                         Une Gourmandise. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 2000

Esquivel, Laura                         Dolce come il cioccolato (Como agua para chocolate)

Field, Carol                               Mangos and Quince. Penguin Books, 2001

Chitra B.,Divakaruni                 The Mistress of Spices: A Novel

Suggested Films dealing with Food:

Shelby, Adrianne                      Waitress, ricette d’amore. (Film) Written and directed by A. Shelby

Hallström, Lasse                       Chocolat

Infascelli, Fiorella                      Fish Soup

Mattoli, Mario                            Miseria e Nobiltà

Journals to be consulted:

·         Journal of Modern Italian Studies

·         Modern Italy

·         A Journal of Historical Studies

Students' work and performance are evaluated as follows:


Class participation and discussions are strongly recommended.


2 Quizzes


Exam 1


Research paper (4 pages)


Final Exam


Final paper (6 pages)


Oral Presentation

Grading scale:


A (excellent)


B (good)


C (satisfactory)


D (poor)

















Attendance Policy and Academic Integrity Statement:

  • ·         Daily attendance and active participation in class are vital factors in gaining literary knowledge and developing critical thinking skills.
  • ·         The student is welcome to see the instructor at regular office hours or by appointment when additional help is needed.
  • ·         Students are invited to prepare all readings before discussion in class.
  • ·         Topics for the papers are to be discussed with the instructor before writing: these present such a wide spectrum that the choice will rest ultimately on the student.
  • ·         All papers should involve strictly personal research:

“Pursuit of truth is the prime activity in a university community.  As a member of this community each student pledges to maintain standards of honesty and integrity in all academic work.  Exams:  Students must rely exclusively upon their own knowledge. Papers: students must document sources of secondary information. Failure to comply with these standards will result in a failing grade.”

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays 2,00 pm – 2,30 pm and by appointment. 
E-mail: gsotis @luc.edu

Some Regional Restaurants in Rome:

Nuraghe                             Viale delle Medaglie d’Oro (Sardegna)

Colline Emiliane                 Via degli Avignonesi 22
tortellini in brodo, tortelloni di zucca, bollito misto e il tradizionale “giambonetto” (vitella cotta nel latte)

Osteria dell’Ingegno          Piazza di Pietra 45
il menù attraverso  tutte le nostre regioni

El Taulà                             Via della Lupa 29
cucina di origine veneta, spaghetti al nero di seppia, risotto e baccalà montecato, fregolotta

Settimio alle Colonnelle     Via delle Colonnelle 14, (vicino al Panteon)
trattoria romana tipica con fettuccine, gnocchi, abbacchio al forno con patate

Tram Tram                         Via dei Reti 44/46
(pugliese) orecchiette con broccoli e volgole, buoni pesci, tortino di alici e involtini di pesce spada

Dai Toscani                       Via Forlì 41
finocchiona e crostini tradizionali anticipano pappardelle ai porcini e la vera ribollita

BellinI                                 Via Catania 29
(Sicilia) pesce, pasta alla catanese, involtini di spada, spigola alla saracena, cannoli e cassate

Stella Gemella                   Via Felice Anerio 12
(Campania) pizze in stile partonopeo e frutti di mare

Napul’è                              Viale Giulio Cesare 89/91
mare, scialatelli, zeppole

Basiliskos                          Via Enzo Benedetto 35
(Basilicata) gli strascinati, peperoni cruschi, orecchiette lavorate, risotto con ceci e frutti di mare.