top of page
Book Cover

How We Fell In Love With Italian Food


Pizza, pasta, pesto and olive oil: today, it's hard to imagine any supermarket without these items. But how did these foods - and many more Italian ingredients - become so widespread and popular?


This book maps the extraordinary progress of Italian food, from the legacy of the Roman invasion to its current, ever-increasing popularity. Using medieval manuscripts it traces Italian recipes in Britain back as early as the thirteenth century, and through travel diaries it explores encounters with Italian food and its influence back home.


The book also shows how Italian immigrants - from ice-cream sellers and grocers to chefs and restaurateurs - had a transformative influence on our cuisine, and how Italian food was championed at pivotal moments by pioneering cooks such as Elizabeth David, Anna Del Conte, Rose Gray, Ruth Rogers and Jamie Oliver.


With mouth-watering illustrations from the archives of the Bodleian Library and elsewhere, this book also includes Italian regional recipes that have come down to us through the centuries. It celebrates the enduring international appeal of Italian restaurants and the increasingly popular British take on Italian cooking and the Mediterranean diet.

This is a book both for the historian and the cook. Beautifully illustrated and interspersed with some classic recipes, it relates the conquest of Great Britain by Italian food and cooking from Roman times to these days. It is a book after my own heart.

Anna Del Conte, author of Gastronomy of Italy

A work both academically rigorous and impassioned: it had
me heading straight to the kitchen.

Joe Trivelli, co-head chef at the River Café in London and author of The Modern Italian Cook

‘It’s big on history and social history, deftly moving between topics as diverse as food in Roman Britain, Dickens in Italy and Elizabeth David on courgettes.’ Judges praised it for being ‘exhaustively researched but approachable’, and loved the way this book ‘most definitely went further into the why and how we became obsessed with Italian food’

Guild of Food Writers, Judges comments for "First Book Award 2020"

bottom of page