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Izvorni znanstveni članak
Rain, Food and Culture Interrelations of Cultural, Social and Environmental Factors of a Region
; Institute of Ethnology and Folklor Research, Zagreb, Croatia
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (1 MB)
Kalapoš, S. (1999). Kiša, hrana i kultura: međusobni utjecaji kulturnih, društvenih i prirodnih činitelja jednoga kraja. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 10/11(1), 95-110. Preuzeto s http://hrcak.srce.hr/48540
The paper begins with a theoretical survey of relations between the environment and the culture, and gives a brief outline of the tendencies in the history of ecological anthropology. After having discussed the interrelations of various cultural, social and environmental factors, such as climate, economy, nutrition, etc., their interweaving and mutual dependency, the author presents her own fieldwork research, conducted in central Istria (the villages of Racice, Sovinjsko Brdo, Drobezija, Sirotići and Šćulci) in October 1995.
Namely, the transformation of the river Butoniga into a lake took place in the early 1980s, when the huge water-gate was built. The plan of the building contained the estimation of the increase in the quantities of precipitation that was to be caused by the formation of the lake. It is said that the increase would help improve the agriculture of central Istria, as well as ensure better water distribution for the whole peninsula. The author's informers agree that the increase in the quantities of precipation took place during the last decade, and this change has lead to another change — the different pedological features of the central Istrian soil, that became more wet and fertile. Those new pedological characteristics enabled a new culture to develop — the truffles, together with the whole new set of activities related to them, such as hunting, dog-training, selling, distribution of forests, forming new regional cuisine, and even storytelling.
One of the most relevant question to be asked is how old is the truffle-culture in this part of the Mediterranean. In her book on the history of food, Toussaint-Samat describes the Mediterranean as the place of truffles' origin, and enumerates historical records that had been mentioning either truffles themselves or their symbolic or financial values. The truffles were also very important during the Middle Ages, when they were viewed as very precious sort of mushrooms, containing numerous symbolic meanings — from aphrodisiac to alchemical. The author also consults two cookbooks with old and traditional recipes; one of them presents several dishes with truffles, which could imply that the truffles have been present in Istrian cuisine long enough to become a part of the gastronomic identity of the region, while the other, also describing the old recipes of Croatian grandmothers does not mention the truffles at all. There is also a local story about a man who moved to Istria from the region of Lika, and started hunting and selling truffles during the 1930s. He was supposed to be the first one to do anything related to the truffles publicly — before that, the local population had been hunting and selling truffles in secrecy, because of the high price they had been able to obtain for them. Having all of the above mentioned in mind, the author concludes that truffle-hunting has been present in Istria for a long period of time, but the latest change in climate has made it more intense. Even today, everything related to the truffles is approached as a secret, which is not strange, if we consider that one kilogram of those precious mushrooms (sometimes even called black diamonds) is on the black market worth two or three average Croatian monthly salaries. Therefore, when describing the field work research itself, the author talks about the readiness of her informers to talk about the truffles, but at the same time, they have always emphasized that they did not hunt any truffles, but they knew all about it, since their next door neighbours or their best friends were hunting regularly.
It was not possible to establish the time when the truffles had entered the Istrian cuisine, but it is clear that the latest change in climate and in pedological characteristics of the soil has intensified the truffle-hunting, as well as caused many other changes, that were mutually related and have influenced each other as a consequence — for example, the standard of living of the truffle-hunters has increased, the new activity with all of its side-activities has been created, relatively new food has entered the Istrian cuisine and has formed a new element of the regional gastronomic identity. As the Istrian economy had already been complex and established (people are dealing with agriculture, working at factories or companies, but the main activity of the region is definitely tourism), the author supposes that no significant changes are going to happen, but still, the new activity has made a difference and is going to continue doing the same. Since the anthropologists dealing with ecological anthropology agree that changes in climate and their influence on culture and society have to be observed during a long period of time, the author suggests further fieldwork in central Istria in about ten years time. This way the cultural, social and economical results of this climate and pedological change would be established.
environmental changes; Central Istria; the truffles
Hrčak ID: 48540
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