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Overview


Italians love to talk about food. The aroma of a simmering ragú, the bouquet of a local wine, the remembrance of a past meal: Italians discuss these details as naturally as we talk about politics or sports, and often with the same flared tempers. In Why Italians Love to Talk About Food, Elena Kostioukovitch explores the phenomenon that first struck her as a newcomer to Italy: the Italian “culinary code,” or way of talking about food. Along the way, she captures the fierce local pride that gives Italian cuisine ...

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Why Italians Love to Talk About Food

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Overview


Italians love to talk about food. The aroma of a simmering ragú, the bouquet of a local wine, the remembrance of a past meal: Italians discuss these details as naturally as we talk about politics or sports, and often with the same flared tempers. In Why Italians Love to Talk About Food, Elena Kostioukovitch explores the phenomenon that first struck her as a newcomer to Italy: the Italian “culinary code,” or way of talking about food. Along the way, she captures the fierce local pride that gives Italian cuisine its remarkable diversity. To come to know Italian food is to discover the differences of taste, language, and attitude that separate a Sicilian from a Piedmontese or a Venetian from a Sardinian. Try tasting Piedmontese bagna cauda, then a Lombard cassoela, then lamb ala Romana: each is part of a unique culinary tradition.

In this learned, charming, and entertaining narrative, Kostioukovitch takes us on a journey through one of the world’s richest and most adored food cultures. Organized according to region and colorfully designed with illustrations, maps, menus, and glossaries, Why Italians Love to Talk About Food will allow any reader to become as versed in the ways of Italian cooking as the most seasoned of chefs. Food lovers, history buffs, and gourmands alike will savor this exceptional celebration of Italy’s culinary gifts.



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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Italians and food are inseparable. When they aren't eating, chances are that they are bantering about ingredients or reminiscing over fondly remembered meals. In her 20 years in Italy, Russian translator Elena Kostioukovitch has learned to appreciate the local nuances and the passionate loyalties played out in these never-ending conversations. Apparently, the Italian "culinary code" also interests its creators: First published in Russia, Why Italians Love to Talk about Food became a bestseller in Italy, too. A talented outsider's look at a unique culinary culture.
Publishers Weekly
Kostioukovitch, Umberto Eco's Russian translator, seems an unlikely source for a volume that feels like an instant Italian food and food history classic, but she's lived in Italy for 20 years and brings a nonnative's eye and taste to a fairly comprehensive gastronomical project. “Structured as an imaginary journey from region to region, north to south,” the book opens with a chapter on Friuli Venezia Giulia and proceeds down the peninsula from one region to the next. Each chapter takes a more or less similar approach, leisurely discussing the respective region in a variety of terms from history to geography and culture; sooner, as with the chapter on Puglia, or later, as with Lazio/Rome, food becomes the paramount topic. Though the book is “absolutely not about wine,” the author deftly touches on matters like the history of Campari and Frascati. Though there are no recipes, there are helpful sidebars that list dishes, products and beverages typical of each region, and in between are chapters on subjects pertinent to Italy's food and identity. Some, such as olive oil and pasta, are to be expected, while others are organized around topics like pilgrims, joy or larger themes like the impact of the Americas or totalitarianism; all are full of the sort of well-researched literary arcana and cross-cultural connections that enrich the entire book. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A best seller in its original 2006 Italian edition and now published for the first time in English, this engrossing culinary and cultural study by a longtime Umberto Eco collaborator (Eco writes a foreword) is part travelog, part encyclopedia. Chapters alternate between exploration of each region and examination of broader aspects of the cuisines such as the contributions from the Jewish community or the role of pasta. Kostioukovitch, who hails from Russia but lives and works in Italy, traces what Italians may take for granted: the ties between food and politics, literature, geography, and more. The breadth of detail is remarkable, and though each regional chapter ends with a similarly presented listing of notable foodstuffs, the prose leads readers off in unexpected directions. Readers will appreciate how Kostioukovitch expands beyond the better-known ingredients and dishes of Italy and reveals the daily fare and special items that may seldom be experienced outside their regions or occasions. Note, however, that this is not a cookbook: Kostioukovitch richly describes dishes but offers no recipes. VERDICT For readers looking to explore culinary authenticity and origins, this is highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09; for regional recipes, see Lidia Bastianich's Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, reviewed below.—Ed.]—Peter Hepburn, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429935593
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 1,158,253
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author


Elena Kostioukovitch was born in Kiev in 1958, studied in Russia, and moved to Italy in 1988. She is an essayist, translator, and literary agent. Her 1988 translation of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose was a literary sensation in Russia and led to a longtime collaboration with Eco. Since 1988, she has been the editor of the Russian series for Bompiani/RCS Publishers, and, since 1996, of a series from Edizioni Frassinelli. She isthe recipient of numerous prizes, including the Welcome Prize (2006), given by the Russian National Association of Restaurateurs. In 2006 Kostioukovitch published Perche agli Italiani piaci parlare del cibo (Why Italians Love to Talk About Food). A bestseller in Italy and Russia, the book received the Bancarella della Cucina award and the Chiavari Literary Award in 2007. Kostioukovitch lives with her husband and two children in Milan.


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Table of Contents

Map ix

Foreword Umberto Eco xi

Foreword Carol Field xv

Preface xix

Friuli Venezia Giulia 3

The Sagra 12

Veneto and the City of Venice 17

Olive Oil 29

Trentino Alto Adige 34

Pilgrims 41

Lombaray 46

Slow Food 63

Valle d'Aosta 71

Jews 78

Piedmont 85

Risotto 101

Liguria 106

The Early Gifts from the Americas 117

Emilia Romagna 123

Calendar 143

Tuscany 159

Pasta 178

Umbria 189

Preparation Methods 195

The Marches 201

The Later Gifts from America 208

Lazio and the City of Rome 215

The Mediterranean Diet 232

Abruzzo and Molise 245

Democracy 256

Campania and the City of Naples 265

Ingredients 274

Puglia 280

Eros 292

Basilicata 301

Restaurants 305

Calabria 317

Pizza 325

Sicily 332

Totalitarianism 350

Sardinia 358

Joy 370

Cooking Methods for Meat, Fish, Eggs, and Vegetables 381

Sauces and Gravies for Pasta 383

Pairings of Pasta Shapes and Sauces 385

Notes 395

Author's Bibliography 405

Translator's Bibliography 425

Acknowledgments 429

Index 433

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