It’s almost impossible for me to pick a favorite Italian food. Some days it’s pizza, though to be fair it’s the American version of pizza. Sometimes it’s ravioli, but only if it’s cheese filled. Then there are days when the only food that will do is spaghetti and meatballs.
I’m not the only American who enjoys Italian food, and John F. Mariani’s How Italian Food Conquered the World is an in-depth history of Italian food; how it arrived in America, and influenced food culture throughout history. The book begins with Italian food history from the 1800s, to immigrants selling food on the street corners of America, to high-end restaurants appearing in almost every major city in the US. Italian immigrants created a food culture in America that became a huge success.
Learn how Italian food fared versus the elite French restaurants, and how some of the major Italian brands came to be, including Chef Boyardee, Contadina, and Little Caesar’s. Read about how the wine industry was revolutionized to bring Italian wines to the attention of the world, and make them extremely sought after.
The book isn’t just a history of Italian food, though. There are interesting stories and anecdotes from famous chefs, including Mario Batali, Michael Chiarello, and Giada de Laurentiis, as well as tales of famous restaurants during the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, through today.
This is definitely a heavy read, and can be a little dry in spots; however in the end you come away with a new appreciation for Italian food and culture. You’ll definitely gain a better understanding of how Italian food and culture has developed and its influence on the U.S. and the world, plus it’s possible you will enjoy each bite even more than you did before.