Little has been written about the potato's Italian history. This book examines the important role it has played in Italy's social, cultural and economic history. Italy, like the rest of Europe, owes a lot to the 'Columbian exchange'. As a result of this process, in addition to potatoes, Europe acquired maize, tomatoes and most types of beans. All are basic elements of European diet and cookery today. The international importance of the potato today as the world's most cultivated vegetable highlights its place in the Columbian exchange. While the history of the potato in the United States, Ireland, Britain and other parts of northern Europe is quite well known, little is known about the slow rise and eventual fall of the potato in Italy. This book aims to fill that gap, arguing why the potato's 'Italian' history is important. It is both a social and cultural history of the potato in Italy and a history of agriculture in marginal areas.
David Gentilcore examines the developing presence of the potato in elite and peasant culture, its place in the difficult mountain environment, in family recipe notebooks and kitchen accounts, in travellers' descriptions, agronomical treatises, cookery books, and in Italian literature.
David Gentilcore is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leciester, UK
1. The 'Perverse Strangeness of the Seasons': 1816; 2. An Exotic American in Italy: 1573; 3.The 'Potato Apostles': 1764-67; 4. 'Substituting Potatoes for Wheat': the Late 19th Century; 5. 'Up Here it Makes More Sense to Plant Potatoes': the Late 19th Century; 6. 'New and Broader Horizons': the 20th Century; 7. Epilogue: the Postmodern Italian.