Italian Immigrant CookingA few years back my unindicted co-conspirator of the kitchen, Mark picked up this cookbook and just wouldn't stop raving about it. He would point at the grandmotherly visage of the author, Elodia Rigante, on the cover and exclaim, "Look at that face! How could she not be a great cook?"
He has a tendancy for overstatement - particularly when it comes to Italian cooking -so I was doubious until I leafed through the book myself. Then I spent a frantic afternoon copying down several of the recipes to try at my own place. Sure enough, they worked like a charm. Then Mark ensured all that labor went to naught by giving me a copy of the book for Christmas. Thanks... er, I think.
What I liked about this book is that there is a straight-forward practicality to it that is the true hallmark of the regular cook. There are the obligatory nostalgia aspects but the book is well organized so they don't get in the way of the recipes.
Most importantly, the recipes are simple, to the point and don't go much for the fancy trimmings. They tell you how to prepare the dish in question and don't waste your time with fancy nonsense. Moreover, the book is full of little touches on very simple dishes that make them stand out from more mundane versions.
The approach is understandable if you have ever seen an "authentic" family recipe written down. There usually are no written down recipes. The dish is usually prepared from memory and experience. So usually the best you get is a guideline on how to make it and you have to supply the decades of practice. This cookbook understands that and doesn't try and pretend you are going to cook like Mrs. Rigante anytime soon.
If you are looking for a basic book on Italian cooking to get you started on the cuisine, you can hardly find a better book than this one. Sadly, it is out of print now but back issues don't seem to be too tough to find.
|add a comment|