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Fridays, October 27 - December 1, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | REGISTER

  • At the first lecture, pro-rated registration for the remainder of the course will be available at the box office.
  • After the second lecture, pro-rated registration will no longer be offered. Single tickets for the remaining lectures will be available.

If you are what you eat, then what is “Italy”? And how has our understanding of Italian food grown—and changed—as the mouthwatering dishes, ingredients and culinary traditions of Italy have spread around the world?

In this exciting Curious Minds debut, Dr. Teresa Lobalsamo, a scholar of Italian food and cinema at the University of Toronto-Mississauga, will take us on a thrilling journey through the history of one of the world’s most celebrated food cultures.

As we take a journey across the Italian peninsula, we’ll survey the country's distinct regional food traditions before examining how immigration and popular culture have led to new (and sometimes amusing) interpretations of Italian food traditions all around the world.

Powered by vivid slides and lively clips from films, and Teresa’s voluminous knowledge of Italian food and history, this informative and entertaining series, structured like the courses of a lavish Italian banquet, will reveal Bel Paese as we’ve never seen—or tasted it—before.

This series is led by Dr. Teresa Lobalsamo, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). An award-winning professor and scholar, Dr. Lobalsamo specializes in the history of Italian food and cinema, and she is a faculty affiliate at the Culinaria Research Centre (University of Toronto Scarborough). An Executive Committee member for the Association of American Teachers of Italian, she has led students on numerous international tours and experiential learning trips to Italy.

Promotional Partner: Istituto Italiano di Cultura

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October 27: Aperitivo. Staples of Italian Cuisine:

We kick off our Italian adventures by tracing the origins of several well-known dishes and traditions associated with Italian cuisine. As we explore Italy’s interactions with many different regional and international food cultures throughout history, we’ll survey the remarkable—and to some, surprising—diversity of Italian cuisine.

November 3: Antipasto. The Art of Getting By:

For all the images of Italian luxury that fill our popular culture—Renaissance-era palazzos, exquisitely crafted shoes—the Italian peninsula has faced enormous hardships throughout its long and tumultuous history. But as in so many global food cultures, necessity has been the mother of invention, and the Italian people have generated incredibly resourceful, and delicious, dishes out of the most humble ingredients.

November 10: Primo. Served on a Silver Screen.

Italy’s extraordinary tradition of filmmaking is almost as famous as its mouthwatering culinary heritage—and films have played an important role in preserving Italian history, and food history in particular, over time. In this lecture, we take a culinary-cinematic journey through history and indulge in food-centric clips and still images from beloved Italian films such as Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988).

November 17: Secondo. Italian Food in North America.

It is very fitting that that a country like Italy—so influenced by outside cultures and influences— turned out its own culinary influences elsewhere. As we survey the cuisine of the Little Italies that have sprouted up across North American cities over the past century, we’ll pause to appreciate the traditions and stories of the Italian immigrants who have introduced us to their culinary heritage—and how these dynamic and colorful neighbourhoods have changed the global perception of Italian food.

November 24: Contorno. That’s Not Italian...Is It?

In the 21st century, “Italian” is not just a culture or nationality; it’s also a global brand, with an increasingly vast array of global businesses attempting to express—and arguably, exploit—Italianness through their products. Nowhere is this truer than with food. As we survey the ‘Made in Italy' phenomenon and other current topics in Italian gastronomy, we’ll examine the passionate—and sometimes amusing—debates that are emerging over what is and isn’t Italian food.

December 1: Dolce. Film Pairing: Big Night

To round out this feast of a lecture series, we’ll close with a sweet dessert: a special screening and discussion of Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s classic film The Big Night (1996) about two Italian brothers running a restaurant in New Jersey. Teresa will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion, tying the film to the major themes of our series: the extraordinary dishes and traditions of Italian cuisine; the role that immigrants have played in reimagining those traditions for new diners and audiences; and the tensions between romance and reality, authenticity and reinvention, that have led to new and surprising developments in the history of Italian food.


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