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Country Cooking of Italy Hardcover – Oct 26 2011
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"Substantive and succinct. Colman Andrews tops the list of food writers of our generation. He teaches me every day."-Lydia Shire, Chef/Restaurateur
About the Author
Colman Andrews is an award-winning food editor and travel writer, and the editorial director of thedailymeal.com. He lives in Connecticut.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a book to cook delicious yet simple authentic Italian meals from. Simple, not fancy. I'm a pretty good cook, and I'd rather master a delicious recipe with 5 ingredients than one with 15-20 ingredients, and hours of preparation time. It's a book to treasure with Andrews' insights on Italy and Italian cooking. I learned that recipes that many think are "traditional" are barely 100 years old. Did you know that tiramisu is less than 50 years old? That classic spaghetti all'Amatriciana is traditionally made with the luscious guanciale, and not pancetta? Scampi are actually a little lobster-like cousin with elongated claws, and not a shrimp? They taste different, too! He shares his decades of "boots on the ground" experience in Italy with you as a chef/friend, opening a window into Italy's culinary history. Bonus- You become better cook in the process. Is each recipe the "authentic one"? Given that a recipe has variations within the same family, town and region, it's definitely authentic to certain credible Italian cooks, and clearly more authentic than recipes "tarted up" by authors who have never dined on a back road "mom and pop" find in Italy.
Delicious cooking depends on fresh ingredients and proper technique. You do your part with getting the former, and Mr. Andrews covers your back well with the latter. There's ways to cook pasta that work: adding oil to the pot doesn't work. Try recipes like duck with bitter orange sauce, Sicilian style pork loin, stewed pork ribs with sausage, veal stew with red peppers and black olives, cianfotta, stuffed eggplant, apfelkuchel, and pear sorbetto, to name a few.
I have visited Italy several times, dined in Italian's homes, and favor simple fresh flavorful dishes. No foams, gratuitous fois gras, molecular gastronomy glues or trendy ingredients here-. they are fine, elsewhere. No Food Network Americanized Italian here. If you need "New York" Italian cuisine, look elsewhere. Properly grilled shrimp with rosemary is ambrosia. Without the proper grill heat, you won't get it right. A fritto misto di mare won't be right unless the seafood's at the right temperature to begin with, then fried at the right temperature too. I've cooked Andrews' recipes and they let you create the real deal, right in your home.
The fifteen chapters amply cover soups, pastas, rice and polenta, savory pies, foccacia, fish, shellfish, poultry, rabbit, pork, lamb, goat, veal, beef, game, offal, salads and desserts. No shortage of recipes, each with helpful hints on preparation and the dish's culinary background. With over 375 pages of recipes, this could have been two or three books for most other authors.
Simple cooking is cook-friendly, with most recipes needing only a handful of ingredients. This assumes that you already have fresh herbs and spices, olive oil, butter, and flour. Toss out that grocery store-bought olive oil bottle, and flour, and buy some fresh, before you begin-your taste buds will thank you.
For Italian ingredients not readily available in all grocery stores, be it pheasant,wild game, goat, guanciale, lentils, cheeses, etc., there's a list of top quality suppliers in the back. His list of consulted cook books can be a guide to completing your Italian cookery library with well written classics.
Buy The Country Cooking of Italy so you can cook some wonderful savory and sweet dishes that easily look as attractive as the photos, and equally enjoy it as a great reading companion. And yes, this will be a great gift for that special friend or relative!
Besides the very accessible recipes, the photography is inspirational, atmospheric, and inspiring.
I'm planning on gifting this book to quite a few people this holiday!
I've really been looking forward to Colman Andrews new book,which became a huge disappointment to me!
There is very little of Colman Andrews himself,his in-depth gastronomical knowledge about Italy,his prosa, his bright spirit! A book with laconic recipies,almost no stories,no special effort from the writer.I have a sence of a product which was forced to be created,to be published, to sell in right time(for Christmas presents).
If I wanted a book with good recipies I should choose one of Marzella Hazan.I was expecting much more
from the legentary founder and editor-in-chief of SAVEUR.
First off, there is nothing in "Country Cooking of Italy" that addresses so-called Italian-American cooking. This is Italian food. (Note: I was not born in Italy, so I am always in learning-mode when it comes to getting a some sort of understanding of Italian cuisine. I have been over there though, working for a brief time ... this book reminds me of that time) It comes down to the fact that a good regional cuisine invariably incorporates and exhibits the values of that region's culture. This really interests me ... and the photos, recipes, and commentary in this book all communicate a lot of information in that regard. It makes for better cooking, and for better understanding of what makes for a good meal, Italian style.
Next, I have to say that, in general, I don't think the recipes are difficult. One of the hallmarks of country cooking is simplicity. Granted, some of the ingredients are exotic (cardoons, for example, or Gó fish) and most of my friends avoid anchovies, so I end up avoiding anchovies... But that is what they eat over there sometimes, and I want to know that. This book actually covers a very wide range of food types in its recipes. The ingredients lists tend to be pretty short, and the preparation steps are usually (although occasionally not) well-described.
Finally, I've made several of these recipes and they all came out really well. For example, I've made three caponatas since I got the book .... all with little variations from the printed recipe due to what's in the house .... and according to all of the guests, they were all really savory & delicious. Never any leftovers, for sure.
In Summary: You might well find me reading this book at the coffee table but it's not a coffee table book, IMHO.
Besides the 250 recipes, the book includes roughly 50 short essays on various topics, scattered throughout the book: mozzarella, bruschetta, Apicius... This is in recognition that many cookbooks are bought to be read these days. Actually, the essays alone could make up a fascinating book!
The author is a food scholar, so there is plenty of information about the history of dishes, the Latin names for foodstuffs, quotes from classic cookbooks both modern and from the past going all the way back to Apicius, the relations of the food to other Mediterranean cooking, explanations of unusual ingredients.
My favorite section is the Soup chapter, that offers the widest variety of Italian soups I have ever seen a cookbook. But not being a meat-eater, I had a hard time getting through the meat chapters. They are for true and dedicated carnivores.
The author includes a fascinating bibliography, which is highly unusual for a cookbook, and a treasure trove for Italophiles.
Please read my full and illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews.