Book review – Bocca

17 June 2011 by
Book review – Bocca

Bocca By Jacob Kennedy
Bloomsbury Publishing, £30
ISBN 978-1-4088-0753-8

Jacob Kennedy may only be 30 years old but as the chef-patron of the popular Soho restaurant Bocca di Lupo he's already made quite a name for himself on the London restaurant scene. So it's no surprise to see this month's release of his first cookbook, Bocca.

Kennedy's no stranger to writing books. After graduating from St John's College in Cambridge, he worked, on and off, for 10 years at Moro, where he was integral to the creation of its three cookbooks and he also co-authored the stylish Geometry of Pasta with graphic designer Caz Hildebrand, which was published last year.

As his first solo book, Bocca is a celebration of the regional Italian food he serves at his restaurant. His research saw him travel the length and breadth of Italy over the course of one year, selecting a string of recipes representing a rich, exotic culinary journey of the country ranging from the hearty risottos of the north to the Arab-influenced sweets of Sicily and everything in between.

The book is divided into 12 chapters featuring 200 carefully selected recipes, some of which are classic and traditional, some of which are simply bizarre.

It starts off with a section called Raw in which a range of salads are listed next to more unusual recipes such as rabbit tonnato (a twist on the traditional vitello, veal, from Milanese Trattoria Masuelli San Marco) served with raw broad beans and radishes. Next up is a section celebrating the Italian art of curing foods and sausage, which provides an extensive overview on sausage making as well as recipes for all types from the boiling sausage of Emilia-Romagna to the extremely spicy salame of Calabria.

The Pasta section alone is comprehensive enough to rival any dedicated book on pasta, while the Risotto/Soup chapter goes far beyond the usual recipes by listing dishes such as oyster and prosecco risotto next to bone marrow, Barolo and radicchio risotto.

Subsequent chapters called Stews, Grilled/Pan-Fried, Roasts and Sides are equally broad, while two chapters on sweets are divided into Desserts and Biscuits, and Frozen Desserts. Finally a chapter entitled Drinks/Cards lists concoctions from Aperol Spritzer to coffee-flavoured cocktails and even explains the rules to some of Italy's most popular after dinner card games.

This book clearly took a lot of time and effort to put together. It's one of the most extensive collections of Italian recipes out there and a book that is utterly charming and inspirational.

If you like this, you'll love these:
The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kennedy
wo Greedy Italians by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
by the Italian Academy of Cuisine

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