Dinner in Rome
A History of the World in One Meal
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Dinner in Rome
A History of the World in One Meal
“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.
Andreas Viestad introduces Dinner in Rome: A History of the World in One Meal.
240 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
History: General History
"Combining history, gastronomic know-how, and 50,000-plus restaurant meals, Norwegian food writer Viestad begins this armchair-traveling foodie history with a June dinner at his favorite Roman restaurant, La Carbonara in Campo de Fiori, going on to dissect elements of his meal in food-titled chapters. . . . Almost every page reveals a new factoid, all interwoven with the fabric of world cuisines. With a series of tributes from culinary superstars like Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, Lidia Bastianich, and Eric Ripert to boot, Dinner in Rome a must-read, even for those not so fascinated by the foodie-verse."
Booklist, Starred Review
"Viestad comes across as a genial companion, both confident and unassuming. . . . Dinner in Rome avoids the florid excesses of much food writing and offers instead the simpler pleasures of a well-crafted book with satisfying body and depth."
"Viestad lives between Oslo and Cape Town and for twenty-five years has been a regular visitor to Rome. His favorite restaurant there is La Carbonara, by the Campo de’ Fiori, and he has had the strikingly good idea of writing a foodie history of the world by examining a single meal eaten there. . . . [A] riveting volume."
"Approaching the history of Rome—and civilization more widely—through a single meal enjoyed at an Italian restaurant is an ambitious premise, but it's one the makes for rewarding reading. . . . This accessible account is a perfect pairing of food and history."
BBC History Magazine
"Food is history's longest account. The book is written from dinner at the table of a classic Roman restaurant. And goes out from there - out to the history of bread, out to finding the best wheat, out to losing the wheat and the people. Out to olive oil, across the fried artichokes, on to lemons and the Mafia, they knew it was lemons. This is pasta carbonara, deconstructed, and each literal detail sent flying through its history, its hopes and losses. This is Italian food, as the record of all. La cucina autentica. This is sugar, sugar and 12 million slaves deported to raise it. Not a photo in the pages, 232 pages, a lovely account of food and people, of taste and need."
Peter Miller 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.”
“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