2010 IACP Cookbook Award Finalist
Chiavari Literary Prize 2007 Italy
Bancarella (cucina) Award 2007 Italy
Hospitality Prize of the Restaurateurs & Hoteliers Federation 2006 Russia

Rights sold: Australia - PAN MACMILLAN, Bulgaria - POCKET MEDIA, Estonia - TANAPAEV, China - WEALTH PRESS (traditional chinese), BEIJING QIZHENGUAN MEDIA (simplified chinese), Germany - FISCHER VERLAG, Italy - SPERLING & KUPFER, ODOYA, Korea - RANDOM HOUSE KOREA, Latvia - JANIS ROZE, Macedonia - ANTOLOG, Poland - ALBATROS, Russia - EKSMO, SLOVO, OGI, Serbia - PAIDEIA, Spain - TUSQUETS, UK - DUCKWORTH, Ukraine - FOLIO, USA - FARRAR, STRAUS and GIROUX


Why Italians Love to Talk about Food with a preface by Umberto Eco is a fascinating mix of history, culture, language and cuisine. To illustrate the synergy of these elements, the book presents chapters on each of Italy’s 20 very diverse regions, alternating with chapters on general themes such as olive oil, Slow Food, the Mediterranean diet, the sagra, etc. This is not a recipe book, but a kind of gastronomic-cultural guide: moving from north to south down the peninsula, Kostioukovitch shows how each region’s traditional cuisine and local specialties have been informed by its culture and history, its exposure to foreign influences, its geography and landscape, its topography and climate, its social customs and attitudes, its religious canons, its politics and economy, and more. As the author puts it, food is a common language which crosses the most diverse social and economic strata. In the end it is Kostioukovitch’s love for Italy itself, even more so than its food, that is her muse and inspiration. Lively and entertaining in its approach, the book’s extensive bibliography shows the range of research – culinary, historical, literary, and so on – on which it soundly rests.


"Elena, who certainly turns out to be an exceptional connoisseur of Italian cooking in all its varieties and mysteries, takes us by the hand (and let's say by the palate and by the nose too) on her culinary journey, not only for the sake of showing us the food, but also for showing us Italy, which she herself has spent a lifetime discovering. What you are about to read is a book of cuisine, but also a book about a country, a culture, indeed, many cultures." - UMBERTO ECO, from the preface to “Why Italians Love to Talk about Food”

 There are no recipes for quail or anything else in "Why Italians Love to Talk About Food", but anyone with a strong passion for Italian food will find it indispensable. It's like an encyclopedia compiled and penned by a seriously gifted writer, in this case Elena Kostioukovitch. Infused throughout is Kostioukovitch's passion for Italy and its wide-ranging cuisine; you could even call it amore. - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Elena Kostioukovitch has deciphered a large chunk of the culinary code that is second nature to Italians: knowledge about agriculture, festivals and cooking. - The New York Times

Every decade or so I discover a book that makes me feel I've been waiting for it all my life. Elena Kostioukovitch's Why Italians Love to Talk About Food is one of these books. Her rich book is an omnium gatherum of historically significant food, the extraordinary diversity of Italian cuisine. This fine book is a painting in words of the deepest bonds between local foods, ceremony and people. - Annie Proulx, The Guardian

This is a travelogue journey through Italy's regional cuisines, from the Alps to Sicily. The author noticed the differences of taste, language, and attitude in the ways that Italians talked about food. Local pride comes to mind. This memoir is loaded with illustrations, maps, menus, and explanations. - Gothic Epicures VinCuisine blog

Chefs, foodies, and Italophiles will treasure Elena Kostioukovitch’s Why Italians Love To Talk About Food. This masterful tome is a culinary encyclopedia and travelogue—a chronicle of Italy’s regional cuisines. Cuisine is a "code that pervades all of Italy," Kostioukovitch writes, and discussing it "means celebrating a rite, uttering a magic formula." Gorgeous photos and mouthwatering sample menus round out this literary feast. - Elizabeth Sher, Politics and Prose Bookstore & Coffeeshop website, Washington D.C.

Encyclopedic, this book is. It awakens that longing to head to the kitchen, mince some garlic, pour the olive oil in a pan and start cooking. - An ode to Italy's food, and its place in Italian culture, The Montreal Gazette

This book is something quite different. There are no glossy photos and no recipes. Elena Kostioukovitch has lived in Italy for the past 20 years, and studied its various foods and culinary traditions passionately. The result is a lively discussion of the way what we eat is not just cooked but culturally transformed. This book is not encyclopedic. One shouldn't turn to it for a comprehensive guide of a particular region's food. Its modus operandi is that of the anecdote, like a series of rambling conversations around a dinner table. The Australian

An off-beat take on the Italian cookbook and Italian culture - Michael A. Duvernois, WIKIO

Umberto Eco's translator shares cultural, historical and sociopolitical wisdom in this charming gastronomic survey of the food of her adopted country. - The New York Times

My immediate reaction to Why Italians Love to Talk About Food was, this is a perfect companion to the Lonely Planet guidebook edition covering Italy. Like travelling through Italy, where each corner you turn has the potential to present an unforgettable visual experience, turning each page of this book has the potential to tickle, tease and tantalise your tastebuds. - Web Wombat

"Why Italians Love to Talk About Food", a wandering encyclopedia, travel guide and history, at times ploddingly told, but unlike much else. Elena Kostioukovitch, who was Umberto Eco's Russian translator, walks us from north to south, each stop densely researched. There are no recipes. Photos are gorgeous, if sparse. And the tone is reminiscent of a long, discursive meal. - Chicago Tribune

This is a book for the serious foodie, covering Italy and its flavorful cooking step-by-step, with a sense of the natural resources and cultural backdrop that brought particular ingredients and dishes to the fore. The glossary of terms means you'll never again have to be ignorant of the meaning of such terms as alla cacciatora or in carpione. - The Book Babes, Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel’s website

Kostiukovich manages to illuminate the many mysteries of Italian cuisine in a text that inspires one to want to learn more about and cook more Italian food. If you read her book, you may not be able to stop talking about Italian food. - Sacramento Book Review

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