Roman Restaurant Rhythms

Produced by: Michael Herzfeld

38 min. Color. 2011.

Captioned: Yes

Catalog #: 0177

Price: $225.00

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Product Description

This delightful and mouth-watering documentary provides a “backstage,” behind-the-scenes foray into the rhythms of food preparation in four traditional restaurants in Rome. Behind the stately courses of a modern Roman meal — antipasto, pasta, perhaps a diversion into pizza, then a main course, vegetable specialty, and dessert — lies another, more frantic tempo, hidden behind the swing doors of the kitchens. This is the space, as one restaurant owner remarks, that the customer doesn’t get to see.

As orders start arriving and organized confusion intensifies, the film explores the cultural diversity behind one of the world’s most self-consciously traditionalizing of cuisines, its origins allegedly lying in ancient Roman recipes conserved by the Jewish culture of the ghetto but augmented by the pork-accented food of the hinterland. This dietary confusion now also confronts the Muslim Bangladeshis who constitute much of the restaurant labor force but who have adopted the Roman attitude of “accommodation” by treating work and religion as separate domains of life.

Together the food artisans of Rome generate a kaleidoscopic feast of taste, smell, motion, and vision that will generate thought and discussion about culture, cuisine, and tradition in a wide array of courses. Roman Restaurant Rhythms was produced by Michael Herzfeld, Professor of Anthropology and Curator of European Ethnology in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.