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Pasta - Silvano Serventi

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Pasta - the story of a universal food
Silvano Serventi
Columbia University Press
UK Publication Date

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!

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Silvano Serventi is a historian of food and of French and Italian culinary practices. He is the author of many books, including The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy (with Odile Redon and Franoise Sabban).

Franoise Sabban is a sinologist and director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Antony Shugaar is coauthor of Latitude Zero: Tales of the Equator and translator of The Judge and the Historian by Carlo Ginzburg, and Niccolo's Smile and Republicanism by Maurizio Viroli. He lives in Arlington, VA.

Serventi and Sabban's remarkable tracing of pasta's history and development makes this a central addition to the history of food.
Booklist - Mark Knoblauch

[Pasta] is stuffed as tight as cannelloni with facts, numbers and excellent study not only of pasta but of the way a single product can mutate and influence various economies over doubt the exhaustive new authority on its subject.
Publishers Weekly

A feast for the mind.

Offers more in the way of pasta history than most readers have even begun to imagine.
Kirkus Reviews

There are countless books on pasta, but none before has really explained how noodles took over the world, from the two great civilizations of China and Italy.... [Pasta] is rich with stories.
London Times - Bee Wilson

You might think that a 400-plus-page book about pasta wouldn't be much of a page turner, but you'd be wrong....Serventi & Sabban have written an engrossing book.
Chicago Tribune - Dan Santow

[A]nyone who cares about pasta (which is to say, anyone who eats) will find a great deal of fascinating material to savor. This book is catnip for history buffs.
Gastronomica - Fred Plotkin

Pasta shows how much is to be gained by looking at historical change through the lens provided by... food.
Journal of Modern History - Priscilla Ferguson

Keyword Index
Cookery (Pasta)|Pasta products - History.|Pasta industry - History.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages

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