Everyone loves Italian food. But how did the Italians come to eat so well? The advertising industry tells us the answer lies in the vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany - among sun-weathered peasants, and mammas serving pasta under the pergola Yet this nostalgic fantasy has little to do with the real history of Italian cuisine. Because Italian ...
Everyone loves Italian food. But how did the Italians come to eat so well? The advertising industry tells us the answer lies in the vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany - among sun-weathered peasants, and mammas serving pasta under the pergola Yet this nostalgic fantasy has little to do with the real history of Italian cuisine. Because Italian food is city food. And telling its story means telling the story of the Italians as a people of city dwellers. For a thousand years, Italy's cities have been magnets for everything that makes for great eating: ingredients, talent, money, and power. In DELIZIA! the author of the acclaimed COSA NOSTRA takes a revelatory historical journey through the flavours of Italy's cities. From the bustle of Medieval Milan, to the bombast of Fascist Rome; from the pleasure gardens of Renaissance Ferrara, to the putrid alleyways of nineteenth-century Naples. In rich slices of urban life, DELIZIA! shows how violence and intrigue, as well as taste and creativity, went to make the world's favourite cuisine. With its mix of vivid story-telling, ground-breaking research and shrewd analysis, John Dickie's DELIZIA! is as appetising as the dishes it describes.
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Publishers Weekly, 2007-09-03 In this revelatory history of gourmet Italy from antiquity to today, Dickie (Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia), examines the centuries of religious, political and sociological events that effectively thrust Italian food into today's global limelight. Though it begins with the requisite gnocchi, lasagna, tagliatelle and tortellini, this bittersweet historical narrative quickly dispels the romantic notion that contemporary Italian fare has been the prideful plate of the rural peninsula and peasants throughout the ages. Dickie tracks the country's culinary saga to medieval times, during which the impoverished would have been less likely to eat bistecca alla fiorentina or risotto alla milanese (had either existed), as they were to subsist on banal fare like turnips and polenta, with little concept of epicurean taste or pride. He notes that it was the urban areas, replete with food markets and money, that enabled foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano and mortadella to become Italian staples. As Dickie shows, the mainstream American concept of "Italian food" is a modern-day notion developed as a mixture of the multiple identities of the country's cities. Boisterous, gluttonous stories-some verging on salacious-are balanced by accounts of paucity in this look into Italian history and its edibles. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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