Pre Gastro Tourism

Elizabeth David
Italian Food
“Introduction to the Penguin Edition” (1963)

Italy is a place to which you go for a summer holiday. […] And fair enough too, is the food you get in Italian seaside resorts. It is representative of holiday food everywhere in Southern Europe. The hotels and restaurants are crowded. The staffs are overworked. The cooking may have an Italian accent, but the majority of foreign visitors (of whom vast numbers are German and Scandinavian as well as British) would be too suspicious of the unknown to accept genuine regional specialities were they offered. Besides, there is the language difficulty and there is the question of what is suitable or in season during the hot summer months, and for people uprooted from familiar routine and surroundings and therefore peculiarly sensitive to changes of diet. So the cooking is reduced to a general level of international mediocrity. Indifferent beefsteaks, chips, the ubiquitous veal, spaghetti and tomato sauce, the evening broth thickened with pasta, the eternal Bel Paese cheese; and, in the land of fresh figs and peaches, apricots, grapes, and pears, there will be imported bananas for dessert.

To be fair, in the next paragraph, she tars English and French resort cooking with the same brush. And the same concern for regional goodness pervades the prose.

And so for day 3041
09.04.2015

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