Book Review: A Brief History of Pasta

Don’t call that carbonara.

Luca Cesari ~ A Brief History of Pasta


What is Italy without pasta? Come to think of it, where would the rest of us be without this staple of global cuisine?

The wheat-based dough first appeared in the Mediterranean in ancient times. Yet despite these ancient beginnings, pasta wasn’t wedded to sauce until the nineteenth century. Once the food of peasants, it has been served everywhere from rural taverns to royal tables – and its surprising past holds a mirror up to the changing fortunes of its makers.

Full of mouth-watering recipes and outlandish anecdotes – from (literal) off-the-wall 1880s cooking techniques to spaghetti conveyer belts in 1940 and the international amatriciana scandal in 2021 – Luca Cesari embarks on a tantalising journey through time to detangle this culinary classic.


Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s warm, comforting and super tasty! Versatile, cheap and filling, it’s no wonder that this simple Mediterranean food has taken the world by storm.

In A Brief History of Pasta, Luca Cesari takes us through the history of this super staple, explaining the origins of the different types of pasta, the sauces that work best with each one and the misconceptions many of us hold, from cultural differences across the globe. And of course, each Italian family has their own recipe, which is – of course – the best.

Split out into chapters of all of our favourites, including Carbonara, Gnocchi, Lasagna and Pesto alla Genovese, we discover the history of Italy and its pasta, along with recipes so that we can try to replicate true Italian pasta sauces.

It’s not a book to read in one setting per se, but one to be enjoyed like chichetti – one chapter at a time – and then savoured and digested, before trying another one. It’s written passionately, combining a little humour with interesting facts spanning Italy’s history and how pasta has evolved over the centuries.

Pasta lovers and those who enjoy sauntering around Italy will very much enjoy this book, which provides a true taste of Italy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to Profile Books for my proof copy. Opinions my own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s