Nostalgia, prefiguration, rediscovery: semiotic paths between pre- and post-gastromania
The COVID-19 pandemic has had evident effects on the gastrosphere, as the lively debate on the perceptions of edibility in different cultures, as well as the development and spreading of new food practices and discourses (see in particular Marrone 2020; Niola 2020; Stano 2020), prove. As people went (back) to their kitchens and (re)discovered the magic of “grandma’s recipes”, also experimenting new forms of conviviality and commensality, comfort food has become the undisputed protagonist of most desks and screens. This has highlighted a new conception of temporality as related to the food realm. On the one hand, in fact, comfort food directly calls on nostalgia (as evidenced by its very definition: “Food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal”). On the other hand, such a “nostalgic appeal”, and the “obsessive regret” (Greimas 1986) that it presupposes, seem to extend far beyond a “lost past” to be retrieved à la Proust, extending to the more recent, and partly still present, gastromaniac pornography (see Marrone 2014; Stano 2018), as well as to the prefiguration of a “post-gastromaniac” future (see Marrone 2019). This paper deals with this crucial issue, reflecting on the effects of meaning generated by our experience of the pandemic, with particular reference to the temporal dimension.