Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Very uneven and mostly not helpful
on July 26, 2009
This is a very uneaven book. For a companion to food, the book has too much a historical focus - and unfortunately is always pre-20th century history. It is always as if Italian food in 1925, 1950, 1975, and 2000 does not evolve. I would have loved to get the 20th century history of pasta for instance, but this is not something, in which the author is interested. We are only told that pasta became dominant after the second world war. Period. Naturally, this begs the question 'Why?'. The author is silent.
One gets the impression that the author loves Italy and travels there on vacation, but doesn't know any Italians. There is no information about current chefs in Italy, there is nothing about 20th (or 21st) century food trends, etc. The entry on cookbooks only lists Italian cookbooks written by English speaking authors. Where is the information about Italian cookbooks written by Italian speaking authors? My guess is that the author gets all her information from the British Library in London.
The style is similar to Davidson's "Oxford Companion to Food", but that is a much more fascinating book because it covers such a broad spectrum. I wish the current author would have teamed up with an Italian who knows ingredients and what has happened in Italy during the last 50 years. That would have created a very interesting book. The current book can not be recommended to people who just like Italian food, but if you are crazy about Italian food, please check it out.