Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Dinner in Rome

A History of the World in One Meal

With a celebrated food writer as host, a delectable history of Roman cuisine and the world—served one dish at a time.
“There is more history in a bowl of pasta than in the Colosseum,” writes Andreas Viestad in Dinner in Rome. From the table of a classic Roman restaurant, Viestad takes us on a fascinating culinary exploration of the Eternal City and global civilization. Food, he argues, is history’s secret driving force. Viestad finds deeper meanings in his meal: He uses the bread that begins his dinner to trace the origins of wheat and its role in Rome’s rise as well as its downfall. With his fried artichoke antipasto, he explains olive oil’s part in the religious conflict of sixteenth-century Europe. And, from his sorbet dessert, he recounts how lemons featured in the history of the Mafia in the nineteenth century and how the hunger for sugar fueled the slave trade. Viestad’s dinner may be local, but his story is universal. His “culinary archaeology” is an entertaining, flavorful journey across the dinner table and time. Readers will never look at spaghetti carbonara the same way again.

240 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Food and Gastronomy

History: General History

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


“A fascinating, thought-provoking, and funny book about the importance of food in history. Viestad zips seamlessly between the smells and flavors of a meal in a restaurant in Rome and the long lines of history.”

Alice Waters, chef

“A uniquely beautiful, historical account of Andreas’ two-hour meal at a well-known trattoria in the Campo dei Fiori area of Rome. For me, Rome is the eternal city and one that I love for its history, art, architecture, and food. Andreas has brought the history of the world to life through a meal at a Roman table. He writes an entertaining and beautifully written account of how food shapes not only who we are but where we were and where we go as humans. He narrates the history of ingredients that grace the table such as bread, olive oil, pasta, pepper, and wine. It is a wonderful addition to my collection of cookbooks and culinary memoirs and travel books. It is a book that tells the history of the world according to the food that is eaten on a leisurely afternoon in one of the world’s most beautiful and historical cities. It’s a must-read.”

Lidia Bastianich, author, chef, and host of PBS’s “Lidia’s Kitchen”

“An appetite-inducing learning experience. This is the best possible insalata mista: with equal parts cookbook, history lesson, travelogue, and fantasy. It’s right up there with sitting in the Campo dei Fiori on a gorgeous spring day, devouring a hillock of crispy carciofi alla guidea.”

Danny Meyer, restaurateur, author of “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business”

“History and food memories are everlasting. They bring an eternal pleasure of time and place throughout the decades and centuries. This book reminds us of how deeply rooted food is in our travels, stories, and traditions.”

Daniel Boulud, chef

“Insightful and enchanting. Viestad reminds us of the power of food and how it has greatly impacted the formation of world history.”

Eric Ripert, chef

“As enchanting as it is fascinating: Viestad has a calm gift for evocative scene-setting, storytelling. and, crucially, for making and exploring connections that brings everything, illuminatingly to life.”

Nigella Lawson

“A fascinating look at food and its history through the prism of one classic restaurant in Rome. Viestad has created a ‘culinary archaeology’ that’s as erudite as it is gripping. He’s as comfortable with amusing asides and anecdotes as he is with the deepest digs. His writing leaves you entranced, hugely enlightened—and hungry.”

Marina O’Loughlin, restaurant critic, Sunday Times

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press