Talking about food from a historical point of view means examining every single dimension of human history. From an ethno-anthropological perspective, there may be interesting insights on food as a marker of ethnic, cultural and social identity, and changes in the various historical periods, on tastes, flavours, customs, knowledge and cultural traditions. From a business viewpoint, however, the history of food relates new techniques and processes of production, conservation and distribution of food and agricultural products, and the development of entrepreneurial activities that, over time, have contributed to changes in consumer habits, changing, in some cases, the relationship between man/food/ nature. Although approaches to analysis and research in this area may be different, the link between food and territory is always strong; a place of production and/or consumption, which can be interpreted today in a new, more modern way, also looking at sustainable development. In this context, Sicily has always been characterized by elements of biodiversity and specialization from which important elements of development have often derived, mainly in the past. Each of these elements has become a centre of historical interest that has brought specific features and different growth patterns to the various areas. Among the most common plant species in Sicily, dried fruit has always represented a very important sector. Throughout the centuries, the production of carob, pistachio, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts has consolidated the continuation of traditions and culture and, in some cases, encouraged the development of local economy. The company Marzipan, which processed almonds and was strongly linked to its territory from where it obtained its raw material, worked for the past century, above all in the sector of almond growing, in the province of Avola. Since its foundation by Antonino D'Agata in 1901, Marzipan represented the largest and most modern Italian plant for the processing of almonds. It was open to globalization and stood out for size and commercial capacity among the companies in the sector. The strong connotation of a globalized company was acquired thanks to the huge amount of established business relations all over the world (from Europe to Hong Kong, from Latin America to the Middle East), as well as a profoundly innovative entrepreneurial choice in those early years, related to the purchase of technologically advanced systems and equipment in foreign markets (England and Germany). Despite the inherent constraints of limited economic and structural resources which affected the territory in the early 20th century, in a short time the company became leader in the processing and marketing of almonds. The company remained in business until 1974. Its sudden closure, in that year, is not linked to management factors, but rather a tragic event that struck the D'Agata Family. The aim of the paper is, on the one hand, to narrate the story of the company to keep alive the memory of a reality in the development of the culture of almonds and, on the other hand, to understand the culture, identity and peculiarities of the management of Marzipan which determined its success. In this case study, historical research will be used combining synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Through the former, the company will be analysed in the light of historical, cultural and social conditions of the territory during the reference period. The latter perspective of analysis is, however, indispensable as - according to Amaduzzi - "it allows the recovery of history to understand the present and shape the future, without isolating the past in the past." The analysis begins with the collection of documents from the company archives. We shall then examine further documentary sources regarding the company. The study will be completed through in-depth interviews to gather the oral testimony of the last heir of the D'Agata family, Professor Toscano, who today jealously guards what remains of the company’s heritage.

The case of Giuseppe d'Agata & figli, Avola, Sicily from 1937 to 1956

PULEJO, Luisa
Primo
;
CENTORRINO, Giovanna
Ultimo
2016

Abstract

Talking about food from a historical point of view means examining every single dimension of human history. From an ethno-anthropological perspective, there may be interesting insights on food as a marker of ethnic, cultural and social identity, and changes in the various historical periods, on tastes, flavours, customs, knowledge and cultural traditions. From a business viewpoint, however, the history of food relates new techniques and processes of production, conservation and distribution of food and agricultural products, and the development of entrepreneurial activities that, over time, have contributed to changes in consumer habits, changing, in some cases, the relationship between man/food/ nature. Although approaches to analysis and research in this area may be different, the link between food and territory is always strong; a place of production and/or consumption, which can be interpreted today in a new, more modern way, also looking at sustainable development. In this context, Sicily has always been characterized by elements of biodiversity and specialization from which important elements of development have often derived, mainly in the past. Each of these elements has become a centre of historical interest that has brought specific features and different growth patterns to the various areas. Among the most common plant species in Sicily, dried fruit has always represented a very important sector. Throughout the centuries, the production of carob, pistachio, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts has consolidated the continuation of traditions and culture and, in some cases, encouraged the development of local economy. The company Marzipan, which processed almonds and was strongly linked to its territory from where it obtained its raw material, worked for the past century, above all in the sector of almond growing, in the province of Avola. Since its foundation by Antonino D'Agata in 1901, Marzipan represented the largest and most modern Italian plant for the processing of almonds. It was open to globalization and stood out for size and commercial capacity among the companies in the sector. The strong connotation of a globalized company was acquired thanks to the huge amount of established business relations all over the world (from Europe to Hong Kong, from Latin America to the Middle East), as well as a profoundly innovative entrepreneurial choice in those early years, related to the purchase of technologically advanced systems and equipment in foreign markets (England and Germany). Despite the inherent constraints of limited economic and structural resources which affected the territory in the early 20th century, in a short time the company became leader in the processing and marketing of almonds. The company remained in business until 1974. Its sudden closure, in that year, is not linked to management factors, but rather a tragic event that struck the D'Agata Family. The aim of the paper is, on the one hand, to narrate the story of the company to keep alive the memory of a reality in the development of the culture of almonds and, on the other hand, to understand the culture, identity and peculiarities of the management of Marzipan which determined its success. In this case study, historical research will be used combining synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Through the former, the company will be analysed in the light of historical, cultural and social conditions of the territory during the reference period. The latter perspective of analysis is, however, indispensable as - according to Amaduzzi - "it allows the recovery of history to understand the present and shape the future, without isolating the past in the past." The analysis begins with the collection of documents from the company archives. We shall then examine further documentary sources regarding the company. The study will be completed through in-depth interviews to gather the oral testimony of the last heir of the D'Agata family, Professor Toscano, who today jealously guards what remains of the company’s heritage.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11570/3086332
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