An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo
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At nearly 1200 pages, this is a sprawling, fascinating, history-driven account of the regional cooking of Italy.
Author Clifford Wright, a James Beard Book of the Year Award-winner for his lamentably out-of-print A Mediterranean Feast, revels in context as much as he does good food. He is as likely to tell you about the earliest written reference to ravioli as he is about a gnocchi made from corn flour, rye, and buckwheat and poached in milk and aged cheese.
Wright provides individual chapters for each of Italy’s twenty departments, from Abruzzo through Molise to Veneto. Each of these is further divided by province, so that the seemingly familiar Tuscany has ten subsections: Florencia, Pisa, and Siena may not surprise you, but Wright also delves into the likes of Massa y Carrara, Prato, and Grosseto as well.
You will find many well known dishes here but even more interesting are the regional specialties whose histories Wright traces. Among them:
- Garofalato, a clove-flavored lamb stew from Lazio
- Goose ragu from Pavia
- Lasagna with poppy seeds from Trieste
- Fish risotto from Ferrara
- Braised squash and beans from Calabria
- Almond cookies from Sassari on Sardinia
Well documented and impressive.