Da Vinci's Kitchen: A Secret History of Italian Cuisine

Dave Dewitt, Author . BenBella $24.95 (214p) ISBN 978-1933771076

Though it seems the title of this book is a bid to profit by association with a certain global bestseller—the topic of “Leonardo's Larder” takes up just one chapter—it's easy to forgive this well-researched history, a fascinating look into the eating habits of 15th- and 16th-century Italy. Delving into formal feasts, foreign crops and the Arabic influence on Italian cooking, Dewitt (The Whole Chile Pepper Book ) also includes chapters on “The First Superstar Chefs” and what your seat says about you: “honored guests [were] seated with their backs to the fire... it was an exercise in social standing... governed by strict protocol.” The author liberally quotes Renaissance food authorities like Bartolomeo Platina, an early librarian at the Vatican who wrote what is likely the first printed cookbook. He also references modern food scholars like Waverley Root and Odile Redon, and includes historical recipes for Renaissance favorites like Risi e Bisi and Spinach Soup with Hazelnuts. Detailed and passionate, this book is unlikely to appeal to a broad audience, but for foodies who want an in-depth exploration of the roots of Italian cuisine, one can hardly go wrong here. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/31/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7679-2504-4
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-9832515-3-8
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