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Eating Up Italy: Voyages on a Vespa Paperback – 20 Jun 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (20 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007214812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007214815
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Elizabeth David meets Jack Kerouac – around the table and on the road, this is a brilliant insight into Italian gastro-culture.'
Giorgio Locatelli

‘Lemon blossom and freshly baked bread waft up from every page. The most intensely greedy, fragrant and sensuously written travelogue I have ever read. A glorious, glorious feast.’
Nigel Slater

'A beautifully written, humorous account of a talented food writer controlling what seems to be a midlife crisis by travelling around Italy on a Vespa.' Jamie Oliver

About the Author

Matthew Fort has nursed a passion for the whole of Italy and its foods since his first visit at the age of eleven. Whilst pursuing a career in advertising he started writing about food in the Financial Times and eventually became Food & Drink editor of the Guardian in 1989. As well as continuing to hold that post, he writes for Esquire, the Observer, Country Living, Decanter and Food Illustrated.


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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Matthew Fort's epic scooter ride up the thigh-boot of Italy is a truly delicious read. Every aspect of the fascinating and varied Italian life he encountered is amusingly reflected upon in his lightly erudite prose. I thought his acknowledgement of feeling homesick (unlike Thesiger et al) was particularly endearing and the description of his amateurish Vespa riding in Naples most entertaining.Mr Fort was the restaurant critic for The Guardian, a foodie professional, but the gusto with which he describes the various meals he was presented with en route shows a boyish enthusiast peeping through the culinary afficionado. The recipes, which are added to each chapter-ending, are splendidly simple but totally mouthwatering.What Mr Fort has managed to do is deftly mix an amusing travel diary, rich with incident & character, with a gourmet's guide to the regional idiosyncrasies of Italian cooking. YUMMY!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. A. Williams on 3 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
Matthew Fort has assembled a kind of culinary Ark of Italian country cuisine in this book; it is an important book because, like Elizabeth David, he detects the tendrils of homogenisation creeping into Italin food and society, and that they will, leach away these simple guiding principles of Italian cookery.
Thios is definitely not a book of recipes - there are plenty of recipes but it is a book about the philosophy of Italian peasant cooking. It is utterly delightful but, for you to make his efforts wothwhile, make a few of the recipes and reaffirm his words
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Aug 2004
Format: Hardcover
Are you, like me, tired of all these remorselessly microscopic, one-theme books? You know, three times as much as you ever wanted to know about socks, and their previously unregarded, unrevealed and crucial impact on world civilisation and culture, that sort of thing? Do you ever pine for a bit of grand discursion, an anecdote here, a fascinating fact there; for an amiable companion rather than some zealot of minutiae or lazy hack padding out the best they came up with at lunch with their publisher? I must say I didn't hold out much hope about Eating Up Italy: Voyages on a Vespa. Another foodie boring on about fancy sausages, I thought. And on a Vespa: a miserly, fit sort of foodie to boot, I thought. And he writes for The Guardian. What a splendid surprise, then, to come across Matthew Fort, fat and flabby and over-50 by his own account, and a mesmerisingly entertaining man to travel with the length of Italy. A man, true, obsessed by food far too much than is good for him or his poor Vespa; but a man, too, who can convey that passion, make the sex life of the snail a thing of fascination, and, yes, even make fancy sausages interesting: read his encounter with the five sausage butchers of Salmona if you don't believe me. Add to this some memorable facts - did you know that Goethe was a foodie, or what excess carried off Cavour? - and accounts, particularly of scootering in Naples, accomplished with wit and not a little confided wisdom. Fort even tells us why the Italians talk so much, a condition he clearly shares and relishes. There are well laid-out recipes for the stuff he so lovingly describes, although I felt "sauce of castrated lamb" also lost something in the translation. Va voom bene!
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By Jon Chambers TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm not in the least a 'foodie' and, much as I appreciate Matthew Fort et al.'s Guardian newspaper, its food & drink pages usually go unread. In fact, had a friend not been presented with the hardback, I would never have read Eating Up Italy. It was so good though, I had to buy my own copy.

What makes this book so appealing is that it is about so much more than food. Part social history, part travelogue, part meditation, and with vivid prose and insights aplenty, it succeeds in its aim: to understand the country through the medium of food. Although self-indulgent and self-confessedly sybaritic, Fort writes about his subject with lucid understanding, wit and enthusiasm. He is quite right, I think, to talk of 'the essential plainness, and grace, of Italian food', with high-quality, primal flavours characterising the nation's cuisine.

Another triumph is that as Fort travels through the regions on his Vespa (again, nothing flashy, and slow enough to allow for an unhurried digestion of food and ideas) the individuality and culinary variety of the country is sharply and entertainingly observed. Fort has the gift of meeting the right people and quoting the right words. About to fly home at the end of his gastonomic odyssey, his taxi driver explains that Italians 'speak in dialect and they eat in dialect.' By this time, though, Fort has given us an ample taste of such dialects.

My only reservation concerns the production standards of the paperback which, with unusual hyphenations (ubi-quitous, gastro-nomic) omissions and wordsruntogether, suggest poor proof-reading and undue haste.

As well as being sensuous and gourmandising, Fort is also level-headed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Matthew Fort has a very entertaining writing style, and manages to convey the colour, fragrance and sights of Italy in this gastronomic tour. There's a short but comprehensive index, so you can flick to places you love, or want to visit, or to seek out a specific ingredient. There are little historical tidbits, recipes he's picked up along the way, and information on regional variances. There are lovely anecdotes of people he's met, or suppliers he's found - even of the locals he watches go about their business. If you love Italy, and Italian good, it's a great book to lock yourself away with on a rainy British day...
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