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Typicality in History / La typicité dans l’histoire

Tradition, Innovation, and Terroir / Tradition, innovation et terroir


Edited By Giovanni Ceccarelli, Alberto Grandi and Stefano Magagnoli

Typical food is an in-vogue topic, embodying issues such as current trends in food globalization and European Union policies on agriculture and trade. It is, however, striking how little is known about its history. This book, inspired by the conference La tipicità nella storia: tradizione, innovazione, territorio, held in Parma and Langhirano in 2010, is an attempt to fill this gap. It includes essays by historians, sociologists, economists and experts in the food industry, who cover a wide range of products (wine, cheese, chocolate, cider), across a broad geographic scope (from France to Costa Rica and Norway) and time frame (from the Middle Ages to the present day). Besides the crucial issue of when and why the link between food and place of origin emerged, the contributors look at interactions between physical terroir and human savoir- faire and also between industrial innovation and traditional skills. Typicality is usually considered as a bottom-up process but the role of institutional protection is also examined. Designation of origin can be seen as a qualitative safeguard for food production, yet its influence on consumers’ choices is emphasized as well. In its approach, this multi-faceted book questions the oversimplified idea of typicality arising from a vaguely defined traditional food heritage. In 2010, the editors of this book founded the Food Lab, a research laboratory on food history based in the Department of Economics at the University of Parma.

This book contains articles in English and French.


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PART IV TYPICAL PRODUCTS: SOME EMPIRICAL EXPERIENCES QUATRIÈME PARTIE PRODUITS TYPIQUES: DES EXPÉRIENCES CONCRÈTES 403 Factors Influencing the Sensory Features of Parmigiano-Reggiano from the Renaissance to the Present Day Mario ZANNONI Dipartimento Controllo Qualità P.R., Reggio Emilia The XIIIth century is generally considered to have heralded the emergence of Parmigiano-Reggiano, “invented” by the monks of the great Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries.1 During this century the most dynamic and technically advanced structures in the field of agriculture were indeed the grancie, namely the ecclesiastical farms connected to the monasteries. It must also be recalled that, in comparison with the rest of the Emilian cities, Parma had the advantage of easy access to the salt needed for cheese production, supplied by the nearby Salsomaggiore saltmines. Making this cheese required large amounts of capital: great expanses of land were needed for pasturage and relevant investments in technical skills had to be made in order to produce enough milk to make cheese rounds. Thus, from its beginnings, the product was expensive and its trade was limited to affluent customers. Parma was, beyond any doubt, at the core of the trade devoted to this cheese. Its main features (like its great size, its limited perishability and its quality) made it a “born to travel” commodity; in as early as 1254 it could be found in the markets of Genoa, in 1351 it was traded in Bologna and in 1371 it reached Bra in Piedmont. The first evidence of its export can be...

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