Italy Dish by Dish By Monica Sartoni Cesari
Translated by Susan Simon
The Little Bookroom, £14.99
Anyone who enjoys Italian food will be aware of the bewildering array of dishes, ingredients and preparations, all of which vary - not just from region to region but even from village to village. So it was with this in mind that Italian food writer Monica Sartoni Cesari came up with Mangia Italiano - a comprehensive guide to more than 3,000 dishes throughout every region of the country. Now the book has been translated into English and renamed Italy Dish by Dish by US-based cookbook author Susan Simon.
It is much more of a dictionary than it is a cookbook, with collections of dishes and ingredients divided by region and split into catergories like soup, meat or vegetables. Each is given a short description or definition to accompany it. And so it is that we learn that "Turde ‘n zulze", found in Puglia and Basilicata, is "Thrushes boiled with fennel seeds and bay leaves after marinating in a terra cotta pot with robust white wine and bay leaves". Apparently the thrushes are "ready to cook and eat in about a week". Or how about "Lepre alla boema", a "sweet-and-sour dish made with pieces of hare that are stewed with various ingredients and herbs then flavoured with sugar and vinegar".
But the book goes further than just explaining terms for the type of food you would find in a main course; it also takes in wines, liqueurs, cheese and dairy products, and sauces and condiments. And the author also provides readers with a short culinary history of the region and a brief recipe for a signature dish of the area.
Despite that, the recipes are relatively few and far between. Instead the book is designed to appeal to Italian food geeks, or perhaps chefs who are trying to develop a deeper appreciation of the rich culinary heritage Italy has to offer. To that end, the handy index at the back of the book should aid the confused diner in Italy to sort their Frittedda from their Frittuli.
If you like this, you'll love these:
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â- Carluccio's Complete Italian Food Antonio & Priscilla Carluccio