Identity at the table „Those well-fed and those hungry“
The exhibition was organized by The Archaeological Museum of Istria, joined in coordination with 12 Istrian Museums, while Mauricio Ferlin, Franko Lukez i Tajana Ujcic are the exhibition authors. This exhibition showcases how Istria (Croatia) is not only rich in dialects and landscapes, but also in the great variety of food cooked in Istrian pots.
Identity at the table
Nutritional identity is one of the most important aspects in the forming of not only the identity of a particular region but also that of every individual. We eat what is offered to us on account of the geographical peculiarities and global movements, but we also eat within the framework of our worldview.
The goal of the exhibition was to inspire the visitors that come to this exhibition to think about their own nutritional identities, following the course of Istrian history and dishes that are traditionally prepared in Istria.
History in a bite
We are only partially responsible for the selection of our food because our nutritional choices depend on the geographical, political and religious environment as well as on media-related issues, all of which influences whether we’ll be hungry or well-fed, halfway hungry or halfway well-fed, whether we are going to enjoy a feast or adapt to misery.
Every period in time bears the hallmark(s) of its own culinary identity and by that alone it helps to create new memories. Each bite we take has a crumb of admixed history in it.
Tajana Ujcic further explains that to know Istrian cuisine is not synonymous with knowing its ingredients and the final appearance of the dishes – it does not mean to know the recipes, but rather, to attain a precisely defined taste.
The exhibition’s authors highlighted that traditional Istrian dishes were preserved primarily by housewives, wedding-cooks, owners of inns and family restaurants, and others, who were then followed by professional cooks.
The latter, who never lost touch with their heritage, were then responsible for the renaissance of traditional Istrian cuisine in the middle of the nineties of the last century.
The present-day Istrian regional cuisine is witness to, and a carrier of a period of well-being from the Istrian past.
Though the „specialty“ of the exhibition are those dishes that are neither in Istrian recipe books nor on the menus of restaurants that serve Istrian food. It was food that was characteristic for poor people, such as porridge, polenta with only some olive oil or lard added, panada…
— The article is a combination of excerpts from the exhibition’s catalogue (authors: Franko Lukez and Tajana Ujcic).