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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading can make you hungry, 17 Aug 2008
This review is from: Delizia! (Paperback)
In tracing the historical development of Italian cuisine, John Dickie demolishes the stereotypical image of the rural Italian cook and relates the Italian approach to food to a range of distinctive regional styles each centred around a major city. He examines the challenges of cooking and eating in Italy from massive medieval banquets to the cholera-infested slums of Naples, considering the political and social issues that have contributed to the food we would define as 'Italian' today.
This is not really a book about types of food, it is a cultural and social history, an examination of how attitudes to eating have evolved and been shaped by social and economic considerations. Dickie is interested in those who wrote about food, those who have sought to capture the culinary styles of their times and he brings these historical figures to life in a vivid style.
The book is lively, humorous and entertaining. Dickie's writing manages to be factual but never dry. This is a bright and highly enjoyable work which makes you want to dig your cookbooks out and try out some of the food for yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Elena B, 28 Feb 2008
I don't read as much as I'd like to, and I sometimes find it difficult to finish books, particularly if they don't interest me. I'm almost at the end of Delizia and it has proved riveting throughout. It is full of surprising facts, like the use of spices in medieval Italian cooking. It is thought provoking and has left me wanting to know more - that's why I'm back on the site, looking for follow-up books I can buy.

Don't buy it for recipes. There aren't any. Do buy it if you are interested in Italian history or food history.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful History of Italian Food and Culture, 4 Sep 2007
Delizia is not what I expected as it did not create a rose tinted image of Italian food history as I had expected. Instead it takes an in-depth look at Italian food history from the Middle Ages through to the present day and shows how the modern Italian food developed out of hunger, world travel, politics and emigration to become what it is today.

I was fascinated from the start when he dispelled the advertising myths and I realised that this book would take a realistic view of Italian food. I learnt so much about the snobbery connected with the food of the rich and the hunger that was ever present with the poor. Italy as a nation of two extremes was skilfully investigated.

I was amazed when he looked into the history of the cookery writers and even more so when I realised that I had one of the books in question. It made me look at it with a new light when I realised its significance in Italian culinary history.

Light was thrown on the influence of travel to the New World and the development of ITALIAN food and I finally realised why the world is so convinced that there is one `Italian Cooking' when in reality there is so much diversity.

Fascism was another influence on the development of the cuisine and there were surprising facts on every page. I don't want to recreate all of the details as you will want to find out for yourself.

Don't buy Delizia if you want a cookery book but buy it because you love food and its development. You won't be disappointed. Buy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!, 16 Oct 2013
This review is from: Delizia! (Paperback)
Being Italian (who has lived in the UK for long time) I enjoyed this book far over my expectations. It is well written and most importantly it is not full of banalities and clichés about Italy and Italian cuisine. I also found out many curiosities I wasn't aware of and which I particularly appreciated as they've been written with the meticulous approach of a good historian!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enlightening, 24 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Delizia! (Kindle Edition)
If you love italian food and want to know it's true origins and at the same time understand something of how Italians think and feel about their country and regions this is the book for you
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning piece of work, 4 Nov 2010
This review is from: Delizia! (Paperback)
John Dickie has written a stunning account of the origins and history of Italian food. He writes beautifully, effortlessly interweaving history, culture, society, politics and religion around the central theme of Italian cuisine. Each chapter taking one ingredient or product, such as pizza, as the theme around which he tells the story.

Dickie's work exposes many of the myths about Italian cuisine, it made me reconsider most of what I knew, or rather thought I knew. His book challenges the modern view that Italian food is peasent cuisine, showing how Italian cities have been the key societal ingredient in the development of Italian cuisine.

It is so well written that this is not only one of the best food books I've ever read, it is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. It simply is that good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 July 2014
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Perfect thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars The truth behind the Italians' obsession with food, 18 Jan 2011
This review is from: Delizia! (Paperback)
I utterly enjoyed this book, so much so that after years it made me want to write my first review ever.

Every page was a new discovery and intriguing facts (e.g. did you know that pizza wasn't really a popular food across the country until the last few decades?). The style is very easy to follow and gripping actually.

I think that this book would appeal to anyone who has a keen interest in Italy and the Italians or...any Italian (like myself). I must confess I had no concept of Italian food in history and considering how fundamental food is to us, this was a real eye opener. I can now firmly say I that could NEVER live in the medieval times or Renaissance! In fact, judging by Dickie's stories food has not been worth the while until after WWII!

One really important truth revealed by Dickie is that Italians don't really see themselves as such, but rather as belonging from the city or region they were born- Milanese, Roman, Bolognese etc...The concept of Italian is only true abroad and even then there's the need to spell out whereabouts...Fascinating, I had never thought about it!

Wonderful book!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read and informative, 3 Aug 2014
Good read and informative. So he convinced me once and for all that all the italian who laughed at the notion that Marco Polo brought spaghetti from China is wrong.
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Delizia!
Delizia! by John Dickie
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