Il Meridone – Italy’s Imaginary Line

Italy separateSome imaginary lines are a matter of latitude and attitude. The three most significant imaginary lines on our planet (the equator, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) run across the surface of the Earth mapping the geometrical relationship of the Earth to the Sun. A celestial relationship that ancient mariners, astrologers, geographers, sun seekers and at least one author (Henry Miller) found intriguing.

Another imaginary line separates the country of Italy into two land masses as distinct as a tropical parallel creating polar opposites with a history, economy, climate, food and culture that distinguishes North from South. Described by some as Italy’s Mason-Dixon line, il Meridone is an imaginary line, roughly at the height of Rome, that divides the peninsula into cross-cultural attitudes of business and behaviors. Reports of “the South” or il Mezzogiorno often begin with less developed and industrialized than the North and with that comes economic and social problems. But when all is said and done it is better to look at the differences created by the beauty of the country rather than circumstance and political parties; the mountains, rivers, different cultures, climate, tastes and textures that make up the gastro-history of the North and South. Focusing on the food (butter and rice in the North) (olive oil and pasta in the South) can be somewhat arbitrary but given some distinct culinary differences based on geography and tradition –  are to our good fortune. For the most part any sociopolitical differences are a matter of attitude and when it comes to the food  il Meridone is a line of good taste that should be crossed often.

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