Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Tag

Source: what foreigners ate in Italy c. 1900   Leave a comment

Augustus Hare wrote the following paragraph on Italian food in the first chapter of his guide to Florence (‘the thinking man’s Baedeker’). At a date when many travellers were still eating Anglo-Saxon food or, at best, Franco-Italian concoctions it is interesting to see what Hare chose for his British readers.

A Good Luncheon at an Italian Ristorante – Spaghetti con Fegatini; Costale alia Milanese, con fagioli, or funghi all’ olio; Formaggio (cheese), or Dolce (sweet); Fragoli (wild strawberries); Vino Barolo, or Chianti, or Bianco Asciutto (dry white wine). Or, Fegato alia Veneziana, Crocchette con piselli, Insalata ; wine, Vernalese. Or Testina alia Parmegiana, con spinacche; Coscia di Vitello, con maccheroni, Capretto al Forno, Petto di Polio; wine, Volognano.

Posted January 12, 2011 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Source: Cafe culture in Italy c. 1900   Leave a comment

The following text dates to c. 1900 and gives the experience of an American in Rome.

The cafe in Italy, and for that matter on the Continent, almost deserves to be called an institution, so intimately is it bound up with the habits and customs of the country. Eating and drinking are often its secondary uses, coffee, ices, and other viands and beverages, serving as excuses for writing letters, reading the papers, meeting friends, conversing, playing draughts or chess, passing an idle hour. To many it serves the purpose of a club. There are cafes of every grade. My servant was in the habit of spending every free evening with her friends from the Abruzzi mountains in a cafe kept by another friend from the same region. Questions of politics, religion, ethics, and geography were nightly discussed there by the ignorant but shrewd rustics who met within its hospitable precincts, and their racy observations and piquant debates, which drifted to us through smiling, olive-faced Agnese, soon won for the little shop the sobriquet of the ‘Hotel de Rambouillet’. The silk-clad precieuses who conversed in the famous Parisian salon with Moliere and Bossuet may have been more elegantly dressed, and more celebrated, but I doubt if their intellectual curiosity and alertness and their code of courteous etiquette exceeded that of these bronzed peasants in the small, smoky Roman cafe.

Posted December 25, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Source: Florence and its restaurants c. 1910   Leave a comment

The following comes from a British account  c. 1910 relating to dining in Florence. The famous Doney’s is mentioned – a restaurant that appears in Zeffirelli’s Tea with Mussolini. We see also though the rise of the ‘purely Italian’ restaurants, a phenomenon that is just beginning before the First World War.

The restaurants of Florence are those of a city where the natives are thrifty and the visitors dine in hotels. There is one expensive high-class house, in the Via Tornabuoni Doney e Nipoti or Doney et Neveux where the cooking is Franco-Italian, and the Chianti and wines are dear beyond belief, and the venerable waiters move with a deliberation which can drive a hungry man and one is always hungry in this fine Tuscan air to despair. I like better the excellent old-fashioned purely Italian food and Chianti and speed at Bonciani’s in the Via de’ Panzani, close to the station. These twain are the best. But it is more interesting to go to the huge Gambrinus in the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, because so much is going on all the time. One curious Florentine habit is quickly discovered and resented by the stranger who frequents a restaurant, and that is the system of changing waiters from one set of tables to another; so that whereas in London and Paris the wise diner is true to a corner because it carries the same service with it, in Florence he must follow the service. But if the restaurants have odd ways, and a limited range of dishes and those not very interesting, they make up for it by being astonishingly quick Things are cooked almost miraculously. The Florentines eat little. But greediness is not an Italian fault. No greedy people would have a five-syllabled word for waiter.


Posted December 23, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Nash – ‘From Spaghetti to Sushi’   Leave a comment

Nash, Alan ‘‘From Spaghetti to Sushi’: An Investigation of the Growth of Ethnic Restaurants in Montreal, 1951-2001’ , Food, Culture and Society 12 (2009), 5-24. How do you measure the presence of ethnic restaurants in an important cosmopolitan centre? Why turn to the yellow pages, of course! The author, in any case, employs – after requisite methodological hand-wringing – the old telephone directories of Montreal to measure ethnic cuisine in 1951, 1971 and 2001. It is a fascinating exercise and one that nicely traces the rise of Italian cuisine in North America in the post-war period.   SY

Posted November 17, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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