A single meal in Rome is a lesson in Italian history

Farmer, restaurateur, critic, foodie activist, traveller (he’s worked in Zimbabwe as well as South Africa), cookery book writer, longtime TV presenter of New Scandinavian Cooking, food columnist for a couple of Norwegian papers as well as formerly for the Washington Post, Andreas Viestad’s belt has many notches. He lives between Oslo and Cape Town and for 25 years has been a regular visitor to Rome. His favourite restaurant there is La Carbonara, by the Campo de’ Fiori, and he has had the strikingly good idea of writing a foodie history of the world by examining a single meal eaten there. Early in the narrative we get a few lessons in

Ukraine and Russia sign grain deal – what next?

This afternoon Kyiv and Moscow signed a UN-backed agreement to free up at least 20 million tons of grain from blocked ports. Ukraine said it would not sign a deal with Russia directly, only with Turkey and the UN. As Wolfgang Münchau noted this morning, it marks the first successful mediation between the two sides since the start of the war. This deal will complicate Vladimir Putin’s efforts to strangle the Ukrainian economy. But the Russian leader needs to show countries that are neutral – or more inclined towards Russia (in Africa and Asia) – that he saved them from hunger and rising food prices. Otherwise, Algeria could increase gas

Bitter harvest – how Ukraine’s wheat has always been coveted

Publishers love books with ambitious subtitles such as ‘How Bubblegum Made the Modern World’, and this one’s, about American wheat remaking the world, was no doubt devised to appeal to readers in the United States. It is not really appropriate: for ‘American’, read ‘Ukrainian’. The focal point of Oceans of Grain lies very far from the vast wheat fields of North America. This is mainly a book about Ukraine and the Black Sea, and the importance of Ukrainian grain in world history. Its appearance during the current war is extraordinarily timely. Scott Reynolds Nelson insists that grain supplies have lain at the heart of millennia of conflict. He describes the