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Book Group: Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food

February 2, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Free

The Slow Food Russian River Book Group will be discussing the book Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food (Free Press, 2008) by John Dickie on Thursday, February 1, 2016.

To RSVP email the Book Group at sfrrbookgroup@gmail.com.  The Book Group is open to anyone who can read, loves cooking a dish, and likes a good conversation.

The Book Group meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 – 9pm in Sebastopol. It’s a convivial dinner. Please bring a dish for four and a beverage.

Membership

To be a member of the Book Group you don’t need to be a member of Slow Food, although – of course – we hope that with time you will become one.

Summary of Delizia!

Buon appetito! Everyone loves Italian food. But how did the Italians come to eat so well?
The answer lies amid the vibrant beauty of Italy’s historic cities. For a thousand years, they have been magnets for everything that makes for great eating: ingredients, talent, money, and power. Italian food is city food.

From the bustle of medieval Milan’s marketplace to the banqueting halls of Renaissance Ferrara; from street stalls in the putrid alleyways of nineteenth-century Naples to the noisy trattorie of postwar Rome: in rich slices of urban life, historian and master storyteller John Dickie shows how taste, creativity, and civic pride blended with princely arrogance, political violence, and dark intrigue to create the world’s favorite cuisine. Delizia! is much more than a history of Italian food. It is a history of Italy told through the flavors and character of its cities.

A dynamic chronicle that is full of surprises, Delizia! draws back the curtain on much that was unknown about Italian food and exposes the long-held canards. It interprets the ancient Arabic map that tells of pasta’s true origins, and shows that Marco Polo did not introduce spaghetti to the Italians, as is often thought, but did have a big influence on making pasta a part of the American diet. It seeks out the medieval recipes that reveal Italy’s long love affair with exotic spices, and introduces the great Renaissance cookery writer who plotted to murder the Pope even as he detailed the aphrodisiac qualities of his ingredients. It moves from the opulent theater of a Renaissance wedding banquet, with its gargantuan ten-course menu comprising hundreds of separate dishes, to the thin soups and bland polentas that would eventually force millions to emigrate to the New World. It shows how early pizzas were disgusting and why Mussolini championed risotto. Most important, it explains the origins and growth of the world’s greatest urban food culture.

With its delectable mix of vivid storytelling, groundbreaking research, and shrewd analysis, Delizia! is as appetizing as the dishes it describes. This passionate account of Italy’s civilization of the table will satisfy foodies, history buffs, Italophiles, travelers, students — and anyone who loves a well-told tale.

Table of Contents

Tuscany : don’t tell the peasants

Palermo, 1154 : pasta and the planisphere

Milan, 1288 : power, providence, and parsnips

Venice, 1300s : Chinese whispers

Rome, 1468 : respectable pleasure

Ferrara, 1529 : a dynasty at table

Rome, 1549-50 : bread and water for their Eminences

Bologna, 1600s : the game of cockaigne

Naples, late 1700s : maccheroni-eaters

Turin, 1846 : Viva l’Italia!

Naples, 1884 : Pinocchio hates pizza

Florence, 1891 : pellegrino Artusi

Genoa, 1884-1918 :emigrants and prisoners

Rome, 1925-38 : Mussolini’s rustic village

Turin, 1931 : the Holy Palate tavern

Milan, 1936 : housewives and epicures

Rome, 1954 : miracle food

Bologna, 1974 : mamma’s tortellini

Genoa, 2001-2006 : faulty basil

Turin, 2006 : peasants to the rescue!

Goodreads Reviews

“Or “Everything you think you know about Italian food is wrong”.
Exhaustively researched, full of fascinating anecdotes, and at least as much history and sociology as cuisine. Learn about the Renaissance’s obssession with sugar and spice, how the Arabs invented pasta, why northern Italians thought pizza would give them cholera, and how many “traditional, authentic” Italian foods are relatively recent (i.e. 20th century) inventions.”

Other Reviews

By Rocio C. on the blog, How to be the hero of your own kitchen! (February 15, 2016)

“John has built an intriguing, complex and unexpected narrative around Italian food.Food as a cultural product manifests so much more than evocative traditions or idyllic family scenes. Food as life itself adapts to survive. It says so much more about raw hunger and bold desire than any other social manifestation. Because unlike anything else, we need food to live, whatever it takes, however it comes. More…

By Paul Levy in the Observer (August 18, 2007)

“For us in the 21st century, Italian food is the cuisine of affluence. As John Dickie, reader in Italian Studies at UCL points out: ‘Italy has become the model to imitate when it comes to making ingredients, cooking them and eating them.’ There are now trattorias for those who can afford them in Bangkok and Beijing . The ingredients most prized by rich gastronomes are Italian – white truffles, Manni olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, Amalfi lemons – as are today’s fashionable foodstuffs, such as buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, polenta … the list is a long one. Yet we think of most of these as having a peasant provenance.” More…

Bibliographic Information

Author Dickie, John, 1963-
Title Delizia! : the epic history of the Italians and their food / John Dickie.
Imprint New York, NY : Free Press, 2008.
Edition 1st Free Press hardcover ed.Descript x, 367 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Contents Tuscany : don’t tell the peasants — Palermo, 1154 : pasta and the planisphere — Milan, 1288 : power, providence, and parsnips — Venice, 1300s : Chinese whispers — Rome, 1468 : respectable pleasure — Ferrara, 1529 : a dynasty at table — Rome, 1549-50 : bread and water for their Eminences — Bologna, 1600s : the game of cockaigne — Naples, late 1700s : maccheroni-eaters — Turin, 1846 : Viva l’Italia! — Naples, 1884 : Pinocchio hates pizza — Florence, 1891 : pellegrino Artusi — Genoa, 1884-1918 :emigrants and prisoners — Rome, 1925-38 : Mussolini’s rustic village — Turin, 1931 : the Holy Palate tavern — Milan, 1936 : housewives and epicures — Rome, 1954 : miracle food — Bologna, 1974 : mamma’s tortellini — Genoa, 2001-2006 : faulty basil — Turin, 2006 : peasants to the rescue!
Note Includes bibliographical references and index.
Subject Gastronomy — Italy — History.
Food habits — Italy — History.
Cooking, Italian — History.
Italy — Social life and customs.
ISBN 9780743277990
0743277996
LC CARD # 07015302

Details

Date:
February 2, 2017
Time:
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost:
Free
Event Category:

Organizer

Slow Food Russian River Book Group
Email:
sfrrbookgroup@gmail.com

Venue

Private Home in Sebastopol
Address with RSVP
Sebastopol, CA 95472 United States
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