From Publishers Weekly
Mariani, author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink and the food and wine correspondent for Esquire magazine, makes a declarative statement in this fact-filled, entertaining history and substantiates it with hundreds of facts in this meaty history of the rise of Italian food culture around the globe. From Charles Dickens's journey through Italy in 1844 to 20th-century immigrants to America selling ice cream on the streets of New Orleans, Mariani constantly surprises the reader with little-known culinary anecdotes about Italy and its people, who have made pasta and pizza household dishes in the U.S. and beyond. Mariani's heavy emphasis on specific chefs and restaurant owners in the latter half of the book may tire your average reader, but foodies will delight as he details the rise and fall of French cuisine during the 1980s and '90s as trattorias eventually take the States by storm. Mariani includes many recipes throughout. (Mar.)
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Making sense of Italian food�s history is no small undertaking, but like any true professional, longtime Esquire food correspondent and legendary restaurant columnist Mariani handles the subject with ease. Organized into categories and loosely chronological, Mariani�s trove of facts and anecdotes helps chronicle the cuisine�s rise to fame. Italian food had some troubles early on. Often viewed as cheap peasant grub, it took decades to gain traction outside of Italy. But with time, it was everywhere and could compete (for dollars and critical praise) with even French cuisine, the perennial gold standard. Mariani explains the obvious factors, like pizza�s immeasurable contribution, but touches on many surprising ones, like the allure the Mafia brought to family-owned establishments. The world outside of the U.S. and Europe is barely addressed, though. One wonders whether fettuccini alfredo is as pervasive in, say, India, as it is on American menus. And if not, why? But readers will be salivating too much to mind. Fortunately, classic recipes are included throughout. --Casey Bayer