Delizia! by John Dickie
The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food

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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.

About John Dickie

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John Dickie lectures in Italian Studies at University College London. Cosa Nostra, his award-winning history of the Sicilian mafia, has been translated into twenty languages and has sold nearly half a million copies throughout the world; it was hailed in Italy as the best book ever written about the Mafia. In 2005 the president of the Italian Republic appointed him a Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana. He lives in London with his family .
Published January 8, 2008 by Atria Books. 384 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Cooking. Non-fiction

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The open-air festivals of the early 18th century gave birth to pizza, new technologies in the manufacturing of dried pasta and the further development of tomato sauce, “the lifeblood of Italian food.” Describing with good humor what Italians refer to as the “cornucopia of horrors” that constitute...

Nov 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Delizia!: The Epic History of...

The Guardian

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The Epic History of the Italians and their Food, by John Dickie 240pp, Sceptre, £20 A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain, by Paul Richardson 310pp, Bloomsbury, £16.99 Time was a traveller's holdall would be crammed with Baedekers and Blue Guides.

Aug 11 2007 | Read Full Review of Delizia!: The Epic History of...

The Guardian

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The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food by John Dickie Hodder & Stoughton £20, pp231 For us in the 21st century, Italian food is the cuisine of affluence.

Aug 19 2007 | Read Full Review of Delizia!: The Epic History of...

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