Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food by John Dickie is a wonderful book for anyone who loves Italian food. It's not a cookbook, but a remarkably readable history of the food of Italy's greatest cities, including Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence, Bologna and more.
Dickie's compelling idea is that the food of Italy is city food. In the cities, he argues everything necessary for great food comes together: ingredients, talent, money, and power. He shows how taste, creativity, and civic pride combined with princely arrogance, political violence, and intrigue created Italian cuisine.
He takes readers on a journey through time from Milan's medieval marketplace to the banquets of Renaissance Ferrara; from the back streets of nineteenth century Naples to the tratttorie of modern Rome. And along the way, exposes many false legends and illuminates much that has been unknown.
You'll learn that Marco Polo is not responsible for bringing pasta to Italy form the Far East, for example, and that early pizzas were positively disgusting.
This is a dazzling history that reads like a story with characters like a Renaissance cook who plotted to murder a Pope renowned for his love of aphrodisiacs. The stories will take you from amazingly opulent wedding banquets with hundreds of dishes to the subsistence meals of thin soup in war time, while giving you a fresh understanding of origins of some of today's best loved recipes.
Delizia!: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food is a history of Italy as told through its food.