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Spaghetti, gnocchi, tagliatellea, ravioli, vincisgrassi, strascinati—pasta in its myriad forms has been a staple of the Mediterranean diet longer than bread. This beautiful volume is the first book to provide a complete history of pasta in Italy, telling its long story via the extravagant variety of shapes it takes and the even greater abundance of names by which it is known. Food scholar Oretta Zanini De Vita traveled to every corner of her native Italy, recording oral histories, delving into long-forgotten family cookbooks, and searching obscure archives to produce this rich and uniquely personal compendium of historical and geographical information. For each entry she includes the primary ingredients, preparation techniques, variant names, and the locality where it is made and eaten. Along the way, Zanini De Vita debunks such culinary myths as Marco Polo's supposed role in pasta's story even as she serves up a feast of new information. Encyclopedia of Pasta, illustrated throughout with original drawings by Luciana Marini, will be the standard reference on one of the world's favorite foods for many years to come, engaging and delighting both general readers and food professionals.
Learn more about Oretta Zanini De Vita's work through this article and slideshow published by the New York Times.
About the Author
Oretta Zanini De Vita is a leading Italian food critic and author of several books on Italian cuisine including The Food of Rome and Lazio: History, Folklore, and Recipes and Il cibo e il suo mondo nella campagna romana. Maureen B. Fant is a writer and translator and the coauthor of The Dictionary of Italian Cuisine.
"Through hundreds of descriptions of pasta styles, with explanations of their origins and of how they’re made, the book places pasta in its social and historical context."
— The New York Times
"One of the most delightfully nerdy books around. . . .[with] more than 350 pages of everything you could possibly want to know about pasta history, geography, literature and, yes, cooking -- without a single recipe."
— Los Angeles Times
“The world of pasta is bewilderingly huge, so we’re thrilled with this new, authoritative work, by one of Italy’s leading food scholars. Whether it’s menietti (tiny pasta akin to couscous) or marubini (a ravioli specific to the city of Cremona), the illustrated entries include ample historical, culinary, and etymological information.”
“This wonderful resource is destined to become the definitive book on pasta. “ Starred Review
— Library Journal
"This book won’t teach you how to make pasta. But it will make you want to master the craft. This 372-page masterpiece, written by the Italian Zanini da Vita and translated by Maureen Fant, deservedly won the James Beard Award. . . .a dense, fascinating encyclopedia of what seems like every shape of pasta made in Italy."
— Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
“We needed this book. . . . answers all the questions about pasta. . . . and many more you never thought to ask.”
— Gambero Rosso
“A feast for everyone who loves pasta in all its wondrous variety.”
— Culinary Historians of Boston