20 Feb 2018



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

SOURCE ... Ex-library stock.


  • 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.


Kelly said...

What a shame this turned out to be dull and dry. It sounded so promising! I've just completed a "food" book that was quite good, so I'm sorry yours wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I, too am sorry that the dry
and dull writing spoilt this
book for you. As well as what
you said about the omission
of certain periods. As when
I started to read your review
the book's concept sounded so
fascinating, interesting and

WILLIE...! =(^..^)= said...

HeHe! Once again...we Sicilians, except for the mention of the
Cosa Nostra...are left out! That's all the world seems to think
of, when it comes to Sicily...The Mafia! And, l know John Dickie
has written several books relating to the Mafia...

Sicilian food, and Italian food (in some quarters) is a mixture
of various cultures surrounding the island, and the southern
part of Italy..after all, over the centuries, it was invaded
by several armies in and around it's borders...Arabs, Moroccans,
Greeks, Egyptians, even the French...So, the mixture of food
from various nationality's developed into the food it is
to~day..the very best in the world...! Am l bias...yes, of
course l am...! :). And...I'm a very good cook to...!

Well..I've crept over here from Barbara's Blog...she's in
Australia of course...and l picked up on your interesting
post...and with a mention of the Cosa Nostra..I had to
defend family honour...and say summat!
Oh! And l was raised on garlic and olive oil...never had
the flu/cough/cold in my life...! =(^..^)=

Karen said...

That's too bad because that should be a fascinating subject!

Karen @ For What It's Worth

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Too bad it was dry without passion. I think I would really agree with you on this one. Plus, if it was better written then I may not want it as it would make me too hungry! LOL

Suko said...

Thanks, once more, for aharing your honest opinion. The premise is promising--too bad you found it to be dry.

DMS said...

I was so curious based on the title! Sorry you didn't enjoy this one more.