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.