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Other titles in the Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History series:
Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)by Silvano Serventi
Synopses & Reviews
Exploding the myth that Marco Polo discovered pasta in China and brought it back to Italy (a story invented by the editors of the Macaroni Journal, a newsletter of the National Macaroni Manufacturers Association in America), this volume shows that pasta has existed in various forms throughout Middle Eastern, Asian, and even North African culinary cultures long before its appearance in the West. Pasta is indeed the universal food.
Who did invent pasta? The Chinese certainly cultivated wheat and mixed it with water to form shapes several centuries before pastas earliest mentions in Western cookbooks of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This book chronicles the infancy of lasagne, vermicelli and other forms of dried and fresh pasta, and the impact of rolling pins, hand presses, and pasta-making machines in the industrial age. Serventi and Sabban then relate the history of stuffed pastas and sauces. Equally important is the story of "bing, " the Chinese pasta with a rich history.
"Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food" shows that this enormously popular foodstuff is not merely a form of nourishment but the result of a lengthy process of cultural construction and the culmination of a wide array of knowledge, skills, and techniques.
Book News Annotation:
Serventi and Sabban have drawn on their expertise in medieval European and Chinese history to write an enjoyable study of pasta. The growing and processing of wheat, the simultaneous invention of pasta in both Italy and China, the development of pasta dishes, and the creation and development of mass-produced pasta manufacturers from the Middle Ages through the present are described. Primary sources are quoted throughout.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Exploding the myth that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from China, this title shows that pasta existed in various cultures in various forms long before its appearance in the West. It chronicles the infancy of various forms of pasta and the effects of technology on pasta production.
Ranging from the imperial palaces of ancient China and the bakeries of fourteenth-century Genoa and Naples all the way to the restaurant kitchens of today, Pasta tells a story that will forever change the way you look at your next plate of vermicelli. Pasta has become a ubiquitous food, present in regional diets around the world and available in a host of shapes, sizes, textures, and tastes. Yet, although it has become a mass-produced commodity, it remains uniquely adaptable to innumerable recipes and individual creativity. Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food shows that this enormously popular food has resulted from of a lengthy process of cultural construction and widely diverse knowledge, skills, and techniques.
Many myths are intertwined with the history of pasta, particularly the idea that Marco Polo brought pasta back from China and introduced it to Europe. That story, concocted in the early twentieth century by the trade magazine Macaroni Journal, is just one of many fictions umasked here. The true homelands of pasta have been China and Italy. Each gave rise to different but complementary culinary traditions that have spread throughout the world. From China has come pasta made with soft wheat flour, often served in broth with fresh vegetables, finely sliced meat, or chunks of fish or shellfish. Pastasciutta, the Italian style of pasta, is generally made with durum wheat semolina and presented in thick, tomato-based sauces. The history of these traditions, told here in fascinating detail, is interwoven with the legacies of expanding and contracting empires, the growth of mercantilist guilds and mass industrialization, and the rise of food as an art form.
Whether you are interested in the origins of lasagna, the strange genesis of the Chinese pasta bing or the mystique of the most magnificent pasta of all, the timballo, this is the book for you. So dig in
Exploding the myth that Marco Polo discovered pasta in China and brought it back to Italy, this volume shows that pasta has existed in various forms throughout Middle Eastern, Asian, and even North African culinary cultures long before its appearance in the West.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -412) and index.
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