Title: The Genius of Taste: How Italian Food Conquered the World
Author: Alessandro Marzo Magno
Data: 2014, 220 p., hardcover
Publisher: Garzanti Libri


Alessandro Marzo Magno explores the surprising origins of foods that have become known and loved worldwide as synonymous with Italy. Pasta, pizza, mozzarella, polenta, tiramisù, espresso: what could be more Italian? However, dry pasta was invented by the Arabs, pizza by the Greeks, and polenta by the Native Americans. Italy’s most typical dish, spaghetti with tomato sauce, is not as Italian as one might think either. Spaghetti was first mentioned in the Talmud, and tomatoes did not exist in Europe until they were brought from the “New World”. If you had asked anyone in the Middle Ages to name a typical Italian dish, they would have answered salad. By the time the fork arrived in Europe from Byzantium in 1004, Italy had begun to create, invent, and export its own products: mozzarella, made from the milk of buffaloes bred in the marshes of southern Lazio and Campania; barolo and prosecco, produced in Piemonte and Veneto; and carpaccio, invented in 1963 to satisfy a Venetian noblewoman with a diseased liver. Italian gastronomy is proof that cuisine is as influenced by ingredients as it is by history.