The Epic History of Italians and their Food

New for Christmas 2023: an updated edition of the definitive history of Italian food.

If only we could all write as brilliantly about Italian food as John Dickie.

Stanley Tucci
Now a major TV series. Delizia! is both a history of Italian cuisine, and a history of Italy through the flavours of its cities. In rich slices of urban life, John Dickie shows how violence and intrigue, as well as taste and creativity, have shaped the history of pasta, pizza, risotto, salame, pesto, and all the other dishes that Italy has taught the world to savour. Everyone loves Italian food. But how did the Italians come to eat so well? The advertising industry tells us that the answer to that question lies in the vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany. Yet this nostalgic fantasy has little to do with the real history of Italian cuisine. Italian food is city food. For a thousand years, Italy’s cities have been magnets for everything that makes for great eating: ingredients, talent, money, and power. Telling the story of Italian food means telling the story of city dwellers. Delizia! is a book of surprises. It examines the Medieval map that shows where pasta originated, it introduces the great Renaissance cookery writer who plotted to murder the Pope, explains why early pizzas were disgusting, and why Mussolini championed risotto. With its mix of vivid story-telling, ground-breaking research, and sharp-witted analysis, Delizia! is as appetizing as the dishes it describes. This passionate account of Italy’s civilization of the table will satisfy foodies, history buffs, Italophiles, travellers, students — and anyone who loves a well-told tale.

Mouthwatering … like lunch in the green hills above Lake Como or dinner at the horseshoe bays of Sardinia, Dickie’s book is sheer pleasure.

Financial Times

Like a really classy cook shop, Delizia! is stuffed with arcane culinary facts and gadgets, anecdotes, recipes and stories.

Sunday Telegraph

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