Serendipity: A History of Accidental Culinary Discoveries

Apollo. Nov. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781954641181. $24.99. COOKING
The founder of high-end food chain Eataly, Farinetti (How To Eataly) interviews renowned chefs, producers, and purveyors of beloved food and drinks about the accidental moments throughout history that led to culinary discoveries. Farinetti’s native Italy offers a wealth of topics from anchovies to balsamic vinegar to wines and traditional dishes and desserts, but there are also background stories about brownies, Caesar salad, Coca-Cola, coffee, and more. It turns out that shipwrecks, mistakes, forgotten barrels, and sheer necessity often led to delicious results, but caffeinated goats and Napoleon’s edicts may have also played a part. A handful of recipes are provided, including some for brownies, crêpes Suzette, tarte tatin, and risotto. Farinetti also touches on the importance of sustainability and ends on a philosophical note discussing the serendipity of humankind itself.
VERDICT These short, casual interviews about serendipitous food discoveries mix fact and lore to provide an entertaining collection that food connoisseurs will enjoy. With no sources included beyond the experts being interviewed, this reads more like an oral history, lovingly preserved in book form.
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