This in-progress research project about food practices, military operations, and human mobility in Sicily before and after 1943 revolves aroundand tackles the following questions:
The project was conducted during the summer of 2018, on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Landing in Sicily, with the support of the Angelo and Marie Cali Fund for Italian Studies. Matching funds were provided by the Inserra Chair Endowment for partial expenses of the Summer 2018 phase, and the Winter 2019 phase. The project received a second round of support from the Cali Fund for Summer 2019.
The project has already resulted in two presentations and the organization of a lecture:
1. Panel contribution at the July 5, 2019 conference “The Taste of War: Values and Meanings of Food in WWII Italy and France” held at the School of Advanced Studies, University of London, U.K
2. Contribution at the July 10, 2019 panel organized to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Allied Landing in Licata itself. See article and photo.
3. Organization of a lecture given by a scholar not directly involved in the project with an established expertise on the matter (Spring 2021): The Taste of WWII: International Tensions and Local Solutions for Food Supplies by Lizzie Collingham
The ongoing work (2019-2021) entails the creation of a mosaic of excerpts from the materials gathered so far
A brilliant early work by Sciascia, the novella is a study of family, regional and international relations with the U.S. that ultimately condemns boastful American largesse – embodied by “The American Aunt” – as much as the boastful austerity imposed by the Fascist regime.
The first phase of the research project was completed between late-June and early-July 2018 in Sicilian villages that experienced the arrival or passage of the Allies troops in 1943. This phase interviewed ten senior residents of Valledolmo, Licata, Gela and Agrigento, who have direct memories of that period, and a local historian (Carmela Zangara) who has published on the subject. The interviews have so far revealed very different perspectives and experiences about food consumption and reaction to the arrival of the Allies and their foods, based on the local residents’ different socio-economic backgrounds, political leanings, and geographical locations, somewhat confirming Sciascia’s adage about truth being always the result of many truths. The second phase of the project (Winter 2019) embraced other six interviews in Licata and Palermo, focusing on the memories of women and direct and indirect testimonies on the part of an established writer from Palermo, Gaetano Basile and a renowned chef, Pino Cuttaia.
Bios of principal investigator and student research assistants
Teresa Fiore is the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. The recipient of several fellowships (De Bosis, Rockefeller, and Fulbright), she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard University, NYU, and Rutgers University.
Kenneth Browne is pursuing the post-BA Certification in Italian at Montclair State U through the Adult Learning Program. He holds a MA in Italian from Yale University and has an established record in professional video-making based on interviews and research. As a non-traditional student interested in starting a new career in teaching, Kenneth brings a wide array of expertise to this project. For more information see this post.
Francesca Oliveri is a major in Italian at MSU and a minor in International Studies and Linguistics (graduating class SP21). She is the recipient of several scholarships in the Italian program and has worked as Fall 2020 intern for the Coccia Institute. She was selected for a paid internship in Summer 2019 to work as assistant for the IACE study abroad program in Narni Umbria. She has worked on a number of interview transcriptions for this project
Special thanks to Fabrizia Lanza, Massimo Ingiaimo, Giuseppina Torregrossa, Sandra Alabiso, Carmela Zangara, Angela Agnello, Gianna Gallas and Lia Comandatore for generously providing contacts and logistical support for the interviews in Valledolmo, Licata, Gela, Agrigento and Palermo. Thanks also to Alessandro Giuliana for filming the Winter 2019 interviews.
To share the link to this project, use: https://tinyurl.com/FoodWWII
Banner image credit: “Lo sbarco alleato a Licata” (The Allied landing in Licata, 2016) by Licata-based painter Antonino Mazzerbo