Unlike the vast number of public celebrations in Italy that are almost always associated with specific foods, rites of passage in that country are focused on pivotal private moments after the ceremonial crossing of a threshold; and food may or may not be a primary focus of the event. Recognition of birth, marriage, and death——the three major turning points in the intimate life of a family——may still be observed with dishes or ingredients traceable to the Renaissance, but many older traditions have been modified or forgotten entirely in the last thirty years. Financial constraints once preserved many customs, especially in the south, but regional borders have become porous, and new food trends may no longer reflect the authentic tradition. Can new movements, such as Slow Food, promote ancient values as the form and food of traditional events continue to change?

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