How We Fell in Love with Italian Food

SKU: ASI-0511

Shortlisted in the Guild of Food Writers First Food Book Award - 'This clever book by an Italian-born Oxford professor [is] big on history and social history, deftly moving between topics as diverse as food in Roman Britain, Dickens in Italy and Elizabeth David on courgettes. Judges praised it for being "exhaustively researched but approachable", and loved the way this book "most definitely went further into the why and how we became obsessed with Italian food."'

'This remarkable book…looks at the influence of Italian food since the first century AD. … A triumph.' - Country Life

'Hugely enjoyable, informative - and culturally timely - How We Fell in Love with Italian Food is part-history, part-etymology, part-cookbook and part-memoir. … beautifully illustrated throughout … this is sprezzatura of the highest order.' - The Balliol College Annual Record 2019

'A genuine appreciation of Italian food, authentic recipes from family and friends punctuate the chapters along with fascinating vintage imagery, and it's all written in a lively, informative style. Not to be missed!' - Italia Magazine

'The book is full of such tempting little incentives to try things for oneself; and Professor Zancani is a most engaging cicerone.' - Association of Pensioners of The University of Oxford Newsletter

‘This is a book both for the historian and for the cook. Beautifully illustrated and interspersed with some classic recipes, it relates the conquest of Great Britain by Italian food and cooking from Roman times to these days. It is a book after my own heart.’ – Anna Del Conte 

‘A work both academically rigorous and impassioned, it had me heading straight to the kitchen.’ – Joe Trivelli, co-head chef at The River Cafe, London and author of The Modern Italian Cook

Pizza, pasta, pesto and olive oil: today, it’s hard to imagine any supermarket without these items. But how did these foods – and many more Italian ingredients – become so widespread and popular?

This book maps the extraordinary progress of Italian food, from the legacy of the Roman invasion to its current, ever-increasing popularity. Using medieval manuscripts it traces Italian recipes in Britain back as early as the thirteenth century, and through travel diaries it explores encounters with Italian food and its influence back home. The book also shows how Italian immigrants – from ice-cream sellers and grocers to chefs and restaurateurs – had a transformative influence on our cuisine, and how Italian food was championed at pivotal moments by pioneering cooks such as Elizabeth David, Anna Del Conte, Rose Gray, Ruth Rogers and Jamie Oliver.

With mouth-watering illustrations from the archives of the Bodleian Library and elsewhere, this book also includes Italian regional recipes that have come down to us through the centuries. It celebrates the enduring international appeal of Italian restaurants and the increasingly popular British take on Italian cooking and the Mediterranean diet.

Diego Zancani is an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College and Emeritus Professor, Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford.

  • Hardback
  • 256 pages, 254 x 197mm
  • 68 colour illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781851245123
  • Publication October 2019

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