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Book Review: How Italian Food Conquered The World

April 27, 2014 Menu 2 Comments

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Italian food and how it has become one of the most popular, if not the most popular cuisine in the world, I highly recommend that you read How Italian Food Conquered The World, by John F. Mariani. I was given this book as a gift a little over a year ago, and I have found it to be a fun and enjoyable read, and equal parts entertaining and educating.

Mariani does a fantastic job of covering many avenues, including:

  • the history and importance of popular Italian dishes;
  • the influence of Venice’s spice trade;
  • the impact and contributions of the Italian immigrants;
  • how the perception of Italian food went from pizza, pasta and meatballs to sought-after gourmet dishes (many of which were once considered ‘peasant food’ that our Italian ancestors were mocked for eating); and
  • how Italian food has played a part in modern pop culture.

What I personally like about this book is that you don’t have to sit down and read it from cover to cover within a certain time frame. The chapters are broken up in a way that you can revisit the book at any time, and even bounce around from chapter to chapter, without feeling like you missed out on information. There are also excellent recipes for the classic traditional dishes sprinkled throughout the book (fettuccine all’alfredo, zeppole, and pasta primavera to name a few). But what I enjoyed most about the book was learning about the passion, traditions and history that are tied to the Italian kitchen.

You don’t have to be Italian to enjoy this book, and you don’t have to be a cook to find an appreciation in what this book has to offer. But if you are of Italian decent, and if you are as passionate about Italian food as I am, then this is a must-read. And hey, Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away if you’re looking for a nice gift idea!

For more information on How Italian Food Conquered the World, click here.

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  1. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO”, NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference of your article, I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “fettuccine all’Alfredo” in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi).
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by his nephew Ines, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong to the family tradition of “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma” in Rome.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    • Dom says:

      Ines,
      Thank you for taking the time to write a response to my blog post. The information that you have shared about your Grandfather and his recipe is fascinating, and I’m sure that my readers will appreciate it as well. I always strive to keep the information on my food blog as fun and informative as possible. Your message reassures me that the time and dedication that I put into my blog is well worth the effort!

      Best,
      Dominic

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