The Guardian: From prizewinning poetry to bestselling thrillers, D-day to the credit crunch, Wolf Hall to a picturebook about a dying duck, our writers and guests pick the best of 2009

Annie Proulx:
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 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) is one of these books. The Russian author is a translator who has lived in Italy for years. Her rich book is an omnium gatherum of historically significant food, the
extraordinary diversity of Italian cuisine. She illuminates geography, trade routes, art, ethnicities, pleasures of the table, husbandry, archaeology, religion, etymology, pirates, feasts, architecture, monasteries, mosaics. We learn of the gangster's last pleasure and the Slow Food movement, the Mediterranean diet, the intricacies of pastas married to enhancing sauces. This fine book is a painting in words of the deepest bonds between local foods, ceremony and people.

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