From poverty to fashion: the path of poor traditional food of Alentejo
(Instituto Politécnico de Beja)
Paper short abstract:
The study aims to understand how social memory is build and imagined and the identity is forged in what food is concerned as well as to understand the social and cultural processes that turn some “poverty food” into “fashion food” and “food of elites” in local contexts of Alentejo (Portugal).
Paper long abstract:
The cultural background builds the games and plays, bodies, tastes and food. And food is most likely one of the aspects that Portuguese people cherish more. Food as ´gaspacho', ´migas´, sweet rice, and many of Portuguese/ 'Alentejanos' deserts which used to be made in the Convents, are an important heritage. In Portugal, food preparation and consumption is one of the family favorite themes when talking about Portuguese identity and experiences and people assumes a valorization of Goan food towards any other culinary tradition and opens a path that allows her talking about their heritage and cultural background.
Each region of the country assumes its identity and subculture concerning food. As Alentejo is a quite poor territory, especially until the seventies of last century, many people migrate to other Portuguese regions. They have denied some poor traditional food which they assumed to be their "poverty" food but suddenly besides bread, olives, olive oil, wine and cheese (products always considered as a must), the dishes of poverty became fashion - locally and in Lisbon. And the "no-food" became the food of cultural and social elites.
For those who refused this kind of food - they did not need to eat that - stories began to be told; shame turned into memory and old traditional knowledge about aromatic plants used as condiments to give a outstanding taste to the mix of water, bread and olive oil ('açorda') became a treasure.
The methodological approach included direct observation, extensive non-structured interviews with chosen informers and documental research.
Ethnological and folkloristic views on "narrative economy" (EN)