I always enjoy learning about the origins of food and drinks that are usually taken for granted. In my childhood, spaghetti and tomato sauce was served once a week, without fail. It was one of those ‘budget stretcher’ dinners that most mid-century American middle class families relied on. To this day, it’s a comfort meal that I enjoy very much. My knowledge of the origins of this dish were limited to “Marco Polo discovered pasta” and “People thought tomatoes were poisonous until some brave person ate one and then everyone did.”
This book debunks both those notions, and many more. They are replaced with an elegantly told, richly embellished, thoroughly researched history lesson that will open your eyes about the origins of pasta, and how tomatoes finally lost their bad reputation.
Don’t be put off when I say that author Massimo Montanari untangles the strands of spaghetti’s history in an academic research paper style, complete with the required abundance of footnotes. Hard-core history buffs will appreciate that he’s cited his references, but the more casual, curious reader shouldn’t feel compelled to scrutinize them. Just read, and enjoy all the historical details and trivia bits as they reveal themselves. Plus, there’s the bonus of knowing there will be no final exam when you’re done!
My thanks to author Massimo Montanari, Europa Editions, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.