In the current situation, we can’t travel around Italy. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t read about it. I’ve just finished reading Eating Up Italy by Matthew Fort. It has certainly given us more ideas of where to visit once everything back to as normal as it gets in Italy!
Matthew Fort is a British food writer and critic. He was the food and drink writer for the Guardian for over ten years. Since 2006 he has been best known as one of the judges on the Great British Menu on the BBC.
Matthew Fort’s infatuation for all things edible and Italian almost outstrips ours.
His plan is a simple one. The book follows his travels by scooter from Melito di Porto Salvo where we live. It is also where Garibaldi landed in 1860 to begin his conquest of Naples. He winds his way up Italy ending up in Turin in the north.
When the book starts Matthew is 55 with all the attendant creakiness that I know so well. He has never ridden a scooter before. He muses about how he’s going to complete his ride wearing spectacles with his stomach overhanging the trousers,
Each chapter follows a particular part of the journey. Anyone expecting it to cover the more well known parts of Italy may be disappointed. As he has access to his trusty Vespa, Matthew is able to go to places off the beaten track. This allows him to spend time with people who are passionate about their local food and traditions.
He finds out that Italians talk as passionately and as often about food as the English do about the weather.
Also, each chapter finishes with a collection of authentic recipes that he picks up from the locals on his travels.
It’s the perfect travel book. It’s an interesting journey as he recounts every time he meets each fiercely passionate local. There’s also a smattering of the history of Italy. For example you learn that Mussolini moved dried pasta production from south to north in order to feed the army.
It’s also hilarious. His description of entering and trying to navigate Naples in the rush hour had me in stitches!
As he reaches the airport at the end of his journey he comments about how sad he is that his journey is over. However his parting gift from Italy is his taxi driver’s perfect recipe for Limoncello!