Rags of Light

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cucina povera

I’m making a batch of bean and celery soup, based on an italian recipe. In the notes I noticed that this soup is an example of what the Italians call cucina povera, “Poor people food.” As far as I can tell, this isn’t a derogatory term: it can be delicious, but it’s made from cheap, simple ingredients.
It crossed my mind that one loss in the culture of modernity is that there’s no longer a cucina povera, a creative subculture that’s developed a way to deal with limited means with its own integrity. Instead, those lower on the ladder end up living on the worst off-scourings of consumer culture: fast food, cheap frozen “meals,” etc. Even my enjoying this simple, low-cost meal has become a function of my cosmopolitanism and internet savvy rather than something I would have learned in my family’s kitchen.