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.
For a thousand years, Italy's cities have been magnets for everything that makes for great eating: ingredients, talent, money, and power. So Italian food is city food, and telling its story means telling the story of the Italians as a people of city dwellers.
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.
- Inner Front Cover Blurb
A drive through the country between Siena and the sea in the sunshine of an autumn evening.
- First Sentence, 1: Tuscacy; Don't Tell The Peasants ...
Bartolomeo Scappi had come all the way from Lake Maggiore, and climbed all the way up the long career ladder of Renaissance cookery, accumulating more gastronomic knowledge than anyone had ever done before, only to spend what should have been his glory years doing nothing more creative than making broth for a saint - Pius V was canonised in 1712.
- Memorable Moment, Page 132
READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... Yes.
- What's In A Name? 2018; 'A Nationality In The Title' category.
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018; 1 of 12 books.
MY THOUGHTS ... More than just a book about cuisine. Delizia! covers the origins of food as the author takes us on a journey that examines the cultural, economical, historical, political and social considerations that shaped the various Italian region's dining experiences over the centuries from 12th century Palermo to 21st century Turin by way of amongst other places 20th century Milan and Genoa.
More than just about pizza and Spag Bog (AKA Spaghetti Bolegnase), Delizia! expels so many myths, concentrating on 'Italian' food that was influenced by the tastes of so many nations (the French, South Africans included) reliant on local produce.
Weak when it came down to certain periods (his take on the Medieval period is oddly foggy given how well researched other aspects of the book were) and missing out the period covering World War II altogether .... surely a time influenced heavily by the reliance of allied and US Food Aid in places such as Naples. It wasn't however these slight annoyances that spoilt what could have been a fascinating read so much as the writing. Disappointingly (almost) making up in enthusiasm what it was lacking in passion (for me passion being of prime importance when it comes to all matters gastronomical). Dry at best, dull at worst, to me (and Mr T who read part of it before me) it read as a dissertation might.