The story of spaghetti with tomato sauce seems instantly Italian. But food historian Massimo Montanari is keenly aware of the risk of confusing lineage with explanation. And in this brief, 120-page book, he demonstrates that "in the history of cooking, there is very little that is obvious, or maybe nothing."
Montanari has a sure hand with colorful examples: an American marketing team which invented a Venetian sailor named Spaghetti who accompanied Marco Polo; the hugely influential 19th-century cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi, who spread the custom of dressing pasta with tomato sauce beyond Southern Italy; the BBC's 1957 April Fool's documentary about the spaghetti plantations of the Po Valley.
These and many others are all employed an effort to demonstrate that the titular dish, while inextricably Italian, must acknowledge its debts to cuisines and cultures from far and wide.
Perceptive and adroit.
Hardcover. Line illustrations. End notes.