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There is a story about two Italian soldiers who, as prisoners of war, hungry and desperate, spoke to each other about what they were going to cook that night. They’d describe the recipes exactly: what ingredients were needed, how to cook the dish. They were creating an imaginary recipe book. It’s stories like these — and there are many different versions —– that bind Italians across the globe to their culinary history. And the Italian diaspora — where communities in countries as disparate as Brazil, the US and SA, of course — retain strong links to their origins both through their cooking and the particular restaurant culture they have created in their adopted countries. The history of the Italian people in SA started way back in the 17th and 18th centuries, when a small number of Italians settled here. Then, during World War 2 more than 100,000 Italian soldiers were interned at the Zonderwater prisoner of war camp near Pretoria. It was the biggest of its kind built by the Allies du...

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