A famous gastronome said: tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are. Nowhere is this truer than in Italy. The steaming plates of pasta, the mozzarella-laden pizzas, the mouth-watering milk-fed lamb, and the dripping artichokes alla giudia: these and a thousand other dishes are not just a delight for the palate. They are also the key to Italy’s history, with its unique blend of creative genius, bloodshed, passion, intrigue, heroism and greed … all the elements that forge the identity of a people.
In this series, John Dickie, the charismatic and enthusiastic historian whose best-selling Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and their Food provides the basis for the series, takes us on a romp through Italy’s past to reveal how much of it was actually shaped by its food. John will travel the length and the breadth of Italy to uncover tales of woe and ambition at the dinning table, of creative one-upmanship and scheming in the kitchen, of unbridled violence in the banquet hall and misery at the food stall. We will travel back to the early days of the Roman Empire and show how bread could topple regimes. We will reveal the true origins of pasta, and the crucial role that a simple plate of maccheroni has often played in taming the mob. We will show how, in the Renaissance, lavish cuisine could determine a papal election, and how a banquet could mean life or death for an aristocratic dynasty. We will demonstrate how public food spectaculars akin to gladiator games held many Italian cities in thrall in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We will tell the story of how pizza was viewed as both disgusting and potentially life-threatening when it was invented. We will uncover why Mussolini wanted everyone to eat rice, and how an American doctor put Italian food on its way to conquer the world.
Because there is no such thing as a free lunch, John will roll up his sleeves, cook and chop his way through the series, work with some of Italy’s leading chefs to recreate ancient feasts and when possible, convince unsuspecting Italians and tourists to sample some of the stranger ancient dishes that have made Italian history… and much more.
In this feast of horrors and delights, we bust myths, expose legends, crack mysteries--and tell a new, dramatic and fascinating history of Italy.