Italian Cuisine

A Cultural History

Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari. Translated by Aine O'Healy

Columbia University Press

Italian Cuisine

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Pub Date: September 2003

ISBN: 9780231122320

400 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $40.00£30.00

Pub Date: September 2003

ISBN: 9780231509046

400 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $39.99£30.00

Italian Cuisine

A Cultural History

Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari. Translated by Aine O'Healy

Columbia University Press

Italy, the country with a hundred cities and a thousand bell towers, is also the country with a hundred cuisines and a thousand recipes. Its great variety of culinary practices reflects a history long dominated by regionalism and political division, and has led to the common conception of Italian food as a mosaic of regional customs rather than a single tradition. Nonetheless, this magnificent new book demonstrates the development of a distinctive, unified culinary tradition throughout the Italian peninsula.

Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari uncover a network of culinary customs, food lore, and cooking practices, dating back as far as the Middle Ages, that are identifiably Italian:

o Italians used forks 300 years before other Europeans, possibly because they were needed to handle pasta, which is slippery and dangerously hot.

o Italians invented the practice of chilling drinks and may have invented ice cream.

o Italian culinary practice influenced the rest of Europe to place more emphasis on vegetables and less on meat.

o Salad was a distinctive aspect of the Italian meal as early as the sixteenth century.

The authors focus on culinary developments in the late medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras, aided by a wealth of cookbooks produced throughout the early modern period. They show how Italy's culinary identities emerged over the course of the centuries through an exchange of information and techniques among geographical regions and social classes. Though temporally, spatially, and socially diverse, these cuisines refer to a common experience that can be described as Italian. Thematically organized around key issues in culinary history and beautifully illustrated, Italian Cuisine is a rich history of the ingredients, dishes, techniques, and social customs behind the Italian food we know and love today.
An exhaustive and detailed investigation and will prove to be a valuable textbook for many foodies. Economist
A scholarly, discursive exploration of techniques, taste, service and technology. Times Literary Supplement
With an authoritative command of the subject, Capatti and Montanari trace the changing vocabulary of Italy's earliest cookbooks from classical Latin to vernacular Italian, showing how this shift reflected the increasing significance of passing culinary skill from one generation to the next... This relentlessly academic work has an impressive bibliography of historic Italian sources. Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
Adds a world of history to our understanding, making the case for the existence of a true Italian culinary tradition in spite of the regionality of product.... It is an engrossing, richly documented text. Bell'Italia Magazine
Italian Cuisine is not simply another history. Priscilla Ferguson, Journal of Modern History
A must-buy if you love Italian cuisine. Antonio Carluccio, The Daily Express
Introduction: Identity as Exchange
Italy: A Physical and Mental Space
The Italian Way of Eating
The Formation of Taste
The Sequence of Dishes
Communicating Food: The Recipe Collection
The Vocabulary of Food
The Cook, the Innkeeper, and the Woman of the House
Science and Technology in the Kitchen
Toward a History of the Appetite

About the Author

Alberto Capatti is author of several books on food and eating and editor of the food section of Einaudi's History of Italy. Massimo Montanari teaches medieval history at the University of Bologna and is the preeminent historian of Italian food and eating habits. He is author of A History of European Nutrition and The Magic Pot, and co-editor of Food: A Culinary History (Columbia, 1999).