Interviews

Food education without trouble

The Fridge Foundation has interviewed Paolo Crepet, prominent psychiatrist and writer. We met up with him in his resort La Corte della Maestà, located in the small town Civita di Bagnoregio, a unique place in Italy.

crepet1Situated between the splendid towns of Orvieto and Viterbo, Corte delle Maestà is an antique residence found in the intriguing Valley of Civita di Bagnoregio, accessible thanks only by a footbridge. Here Crepet loves spending his time here when he needs to rest up, to intensively enjoy the nature and to fill up his fridge and pantry with local tastes, especially olive oil, potatoes, chestnuts, garlic and onions…
What about the complex relation between teenagers and food?
It’s a very interesting matter. Food is everything. It’s magic, discovery. To me it doesn’t mean only sustenance.
Food can even become a means of revenge towards parents and cause of conflicts. What’s your point of view?
Definitely! In some cases food can become a way of revenge; adolescence is a period of life characterized by some important changes both physical and psychic, but social as well. Psychological and behavioral development in teenagers leads them towards a need of independence, which sometimes involves even their food habits: young people are often captivated by new trends that in some cases change into eating disorders that shouldn’t be disregarded or ignored.
Food rules and eating together around the table, are these important factors during adolescence?
Generally speaking, rules are always important and fundamental with respect to the quality and quantity of time young people spend with their parents. At the same time, their opposing attitudes and the way they always call adults’ values into question are considered natural reactions.
Food is a way of self-assertion, emancipation and freedom, isn’t it?
Yes, certainly. Food also means discovery, intended as part of the Search of the Self, not only for adolescents but for all individuals.
What evolution or devolution do adolescents usually experience during their growth?
Our relationship with food is constantly evolving over the span of our entire lifetime. We travel, gain different experiences, try ethnic restaurants which means that our gastronomic culture, much stronger than compared to our parents’ generation, starts during our early childhood and continues to grow throughout our entire life. Adolescents are very vulnerable. They are due to being constantly exposed to messages concerning physical appearance and living in a complex society where points of reference continually change.
Is it possible to recognize disorders or bad attitudes by monitoring eating habits in this period of life?
Yes, absolutely, sometimes overprotective parents can transmit their anxiety through food habits – too much food or too little, fat or low fat, etc – and they end up causing  problems that will appear later during children’s growth. This can somehow be considered as one of today’s crimes. To me food is culture, it means wonder, spell…
Are there any golden rules in food culture?
To me food is only culture; if intended as nutrition or sustenance it’s something I’m not interested in. I’m very curious and food is the most significant expression of the place where I am. It is an interesting way to understand people, food is part of the travel experience and means discovery.

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