The Fruit, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy, By Giacomo Castelvetro


Christopher Hirst
Friday 23 March 2012 01:00 GMT

Rescued from the Venetian Inquisition by the English ambassador, Castelvetro acted as a Carluccio or Locatelli for 17th-century aristos.

His witty survey of Italian herbage is translated in lively style by Gillian Riley. She likens his "common-sense" application of the theory of humours to "our own malt vinegar with fish and chips".

His views suggest scant change in Anglo-Italian dining habits. We still eat too much sugar and meat while vegetables are "unappreciated".

Most of us remain as wary of wild mushrooms as Castelvetro's hosts in Eltham. "My only suffering," he assures us after eating one, "being sadness when it was all gone."

An engaging addition to any shelf of Italian cookbooks.

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