Pasta: The Spirit and Craft of Italy's Greatest Food, with Recipes
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There is so much to say about pasta, but many books devote themselves primarily to sauces. That is not a mistake that Missy Robbins makes here.
The chef-owner of Lilia and Misi, two NYC restaurants famed for their pasta dishes, Robbins devotes the first 100 pages of this 400-page book to pasta making, starting with eleven different doughs before addressing shaping the pasta. Of course she tackles fettucine, orechetti, and agnolotti, but there are also instructions for less famous pastas, along with dollops of history and background. Trofie, from Liguria, are dying out because they are tricky to shape; cjalsons, from Friuli, are objects of local pride, even though each household prepares them differently.
We also suggest paying particular attention to a brief section beginning on page 128 entitled "Cook Pasta Like a Cook," in which Robbins, writing of her early days as a pasta apprentice in Italy, says "What I learned very quickly was that the word 'drain' had no use in an Italian kitchen, that boiling is only one part of the cooking process, that sauce without pasta water is not sauce at all, and that no matter how well made your actual pasta is, there are about a dozen ways to ruin it."
Recipes for the dishes themselves include chapters on regional specialties that are truly distinctive—speck and rye bread dumplings; a Sicilian dish with swordfish, pistachios, and capers—as well as Robbin's own ideas, from spaghetti with ramps, lemon, and ricotta salata to a corn-filled capelleti with black pepper and pecorino.
A significant advance on the subject in English.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.