39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Marta was right!,
This review is from: Encyclopedia of Pasta (California Studies in Food and Culture) (Hardcover)
During the year that Marta from Lombardy lived with me, I was mystified at her insistence that certain coffees could only be consumed at certain hours, and that Americans not only cooked pasta badly, but served the "wrong" sauce with every noodle. Who cares? I wish I had read this book before her visit. Marta was right! Pasta is both a science and an art! So much more than a cookbook, the Encyclopedia of Pasta, is a social history of Italy, Europe, class struggle, regional parochialism, agriculture, food, religion, trade routes, women, families, religion, the universe and everything. OK, I exaggerate, but only slightly. From well-known pastas such as macaroni, in many varieties, to the exotic pi fasacc, this is truly an encyclopedic work. Well written, with lively descriptions and a plethora of anecdotes, de Vita mixes scholarship with an intense love of her subject, be it people or pasta.
If you ever wanted to know the complex and rigid Italian rules for the mating or sauce and pasta,this is your book. If you wondered about the Arab contribution to noodle cuisine (ravioli, among others), this is your book. If you ever wanted to know the ingredients of different pastas, this is your book. If you are interested in unique and highly specific pasta making tools, this is your book. If you want to amaze your friends with your esoteric knowledge, this is your book. Or if you simply want to curl up with a fascinating compendium about your favorite food, this is your book. Reading it also made me feel very hungry.
And, in case you were wondering, the author reveals that there were records of pasta in Italy 500 years before Marco Polo returned from China.