Nov 172011
 

Adolf Hitler’s infatuation with Italy is well know. The ‘fuehrer’, indeed, in his Table Talk speaks constantly of his love for that country including the remarkable idea that ‘My dearest wish would be to be able to wander about in Italy as an unknown painter’. But Hitler also gives space to reflections on the Italian diet. Here he tends to idealise Italy because he sees the Italian diet as coming closest to his own vegetarian ideals: and the reader should excuse the outpourings of pseudo-science that fill Hitler’s reflections here as in all his thinking.

I suppose man became carnivorous because, during the Ice Age, circumstances compelled him. They also prompted him to have his food cooked, a habit which, as one knows to-day, has harmful consequences. Our peasants never eat any food that hasn't been cooked and re-cooked, and thus deprived of all its virtues. The southern peoples are not acquainted either with a meat diet or with cooking. I lived marvellously in Italy. I don't know any country that enlivens one more. Roman food, how delicious it is!

Likewise…

The frugal habits of the southern Italians are quite extraordinary. There must certainly be a million of them who live on fruit, fish and the like, literally from hand to mouth. Towns in southern Italy—at least those near the coast – have certainly never known what it is to be hungry, for the sea provides not only fish, but also shell-fish of every kind and goodness knows what else, in quantities quite sufficient for the needs of this frugal people.

Had Hitler been listening to the Duce’s propaganda about the hardy Italian diet? Even Italian teeth are called in to justify the virtues of the Italian peasant diet.

From numerous pictures and sculptures it seems that the Romans had magnificent teeth, and this seems to contradict the contention that only carnivorous animals have good teeth. The intervening centuries do not appear to have caused any changes. Travellers in Italy have noticed that the masses still feed on the same things, and that they still have excellent teeth.

Interestingly the urban and frankly ‘bourgeois’ Italian food that excites the modern world gets short shrift.

Nothing, to my mind, is more typical of the ineptitude of these aristocratic [Italian] loafers than the fact that not once did the Crown Princess of Italy succeed in offering me a hot and decently cooked meal!

SY

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