Pasta, Pizza and Propaganda (Book)

A Political History of Italian Food TV

By Francesco Buscemi Series edited by Flavia Laviosa

A lively and rigorous historical account of Italian food television narrated from a political point of view. In referring to the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, the book links food, television and politics and shows how the three give way to the political construction of various versions of Italy, from 1954 to the present. 12 b/w photographs. 


New Books Network (New Books in Italian Studies) interview with Francesco Buscemi


This book aims to develop a political history of Italian ‘good food’ on national television, and the central role of food in Italian culture. The focus is highly original and this is a unique interdisciplinary study at the intersection between food studies, media studies and politics.

The three protagonists of Pasta, Pizza and Propaganda are food, television and politics. These are the three main characters that interrelate, collaborate and fight behind the scenes, while in front of the camera the writers, intellectuals and celebrity chefs talk about, prepare or taste the best Italian dishes.

The book retraces the history of Italian food television from a political point of view: the early shows of the pioneers under strict Catholic control in the 1950s and 1960s, the left-wing political twist of the 1970s, the conservative riflusso or resurgence of the 1980s, the disputed Berlusconian era and the rise of the celebrity chefs, which, for better or for worse, makes Italy similar to the other western countries.

The history of Italy since the mid-1950s is retold through the lenses of food television. This lively book demonstrates that cooking spaghetti in a TV studio is a political act, and tries to uncover how it is possible that, while watching on TV how to make pizza, we become citizens.

The primary readership will be an academic audience, including those in the disciplines of food studies, media studies, politics and Italian studies, as well as potentially for those interested in Italian sociology and anthropology. There may be a potential wider readership because of the popularity of Italian food and food television.

Francesco Buscemi researches on food TV, political communication and cultural history. He teaches media history and media writing at the Catholic University of Milan, Insubria University and University of Udine.


Chapter 1: Literature review, theoretical framework and methodology        

            Politics, television and food in Italy: Dangerous liaisons                       

            Politics in Italy after the Second World War                                             

            Television in Italy                                                                             

            Italian food between reality and stereotypes                              

            Italian food TV                                                                                  

            Theoretical framework                                                                                



Chapter 2: Broadcasting sacred food: 1954–1970                                             

            Soldati's journey to the Po Valley                                                              

            Soldati's conception of genuineness                                                         

            Nature and culture                                                                                     

            Culture and the past                                                                                               

            Where are the women?                                                                               

            Soldati's sacred food                                                                                   

            Linea contro linea                                                                                       


Chapter 3: 1971–1980: The ephemeral wind of change                                              

            A new political scenario                                                                               

            The new scenario on TV: RAI's reformation                                             

            A Tavola alle 7                                                                                              

            The relationship between Veronelli and Ninchi                          

            Ninchi, Veronelli and the field of Italian politics in the 1970s    

            Dimmi Come Mangi and the dawn of neo-TV                                          


Chapter 4: 1981–1999: Going back home (and to the kitchen)                        

            Riflusso and Italy in the 1980s and 1990s                                                           

            Wilma De Angelis and home cooking                                                         

            A Pranzo con Wilma                                                                         

            Food television becomes a genre                                                              


Chapter 5: Eating TV: Food on Berlusconian television, 2000–2012                

            The celebrity housewives and their shows                                             

            La Prova del Cuoco                                                                          

            Women between power and stereotype                                      

            Serving sacred food in Trattoria                                                   

            The contrasted discovery of foreign food                                               

            Food in the news                                                                                         


Chapter 6: 2012–the present, the Italian way to the celebrity chef              

            The invasion of the global formats           

            A case of Italian adaptation: From kitchen nightmares to Cucine da Incubo

            A Cena da Me: Representing food to talk about something else          

            Food Network Italia                                                                                     

            The new celebrity chefs                                                                            

            Alessandro Borghese e Simone Rugiati


            Italian food out of Italy                                                       

            Dietary chefs and their enemies                                                   

            The tough chef                                                                               

            Female professional cooking                                                                      

            Benedetta Rossi, the anti-chef                                                        



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