Teresa Lust's maternal grandparents came from the Italian Piedmont, and it's there that she begins her thoughtfully evocative recollection of culinary lessons and cultural insights in three parts of the country. Although A Blissful Feast has more than 35 recipes for the likes of braised rabbit with white wine and rosemary, breakfast biscotti, and tagliatelle made with fresh eggs, the real instruction comes through the stories Lust tells about the cooks who fed her and whom she worked alongside.
Ancient and contemporary Italy overlap in Lust's stories of cooks and marketplaces, restaurants and holiday feasts, regional rivalries and evocations of Dante. A fluent speaker of Italian, her conversations with the cooks, bakers, and butchers she meets are frank and sometimes funny, and she rarely seems to struggle to understand what she's being told. The hazard here is that you're likely to want to make your own trip to Italy, and soon.