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Book review – Antonio Carluccio's Pasta

11 April 2014
Book review – Antonio Carluccio's Pasta

Antonio Carluccio's Pasta
By Antonio Carluccio
Quadrille Publishing, £20

The first impression on seeing this book is to wonder if the world needs another book on pasta, even when the author is as respected and admired as Antonio Carluccio. There must be 10 pasta books at least in my own collection, and I am very choosy about what I keep and what travels to the charity shops.

This one, though, won't be travelling away from my bookshelf. It is very good. The first section of the book has real and fascinating background information on pasta, its history and origins, as well as a refreshingly straightforward explanation of how to cook, serve and eat the stuff. It is more useful and interesting than you may think.

The photographs are good, allowing you to follow the sequences on making farfalle, tortellini and most of the rest. However, the proliferation of names for pasta shapes in Italy is idiosyncratic, to say the least. Every parish, from the Swiss border to the tip of Calabria, would appear to have its own name for each variation. This spawns an absurd vision of choice and variety, where agnolotti and ravioli or tagliatelle and fettucine are viewed as different, but are actually remarkably similar in all but spelling.

What is not in doubt is the generosity of spirit and sheer appetising nature of most Italian food. It demands to be eaten rather than applauded for its cleverness. The photographs show dishes you will want to devour, rather than using cute tricks that will appeal to novice chefs or those with ambition in the culinary world.

There is a short section on 
pasta as dessert, but not much appealed. There is a chocolate fettucine and some Sardinian 
fried dumplings, but they didn't really do it for me.

Italy has the world's greatest ice-creams, so I'll stay with that 
and the zabaione. Those of us who can remember the third film of 
The Godfather trilogy will recall what happened to Don Altobello after eating the cannoli. Enough said.

By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, 
the Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

If you like this, you may enjoy:
•Pasta, Theo Randall
•100 Great Pasta Dishes, Ann and Franco Taruschio
•The Essentials of Classic 
Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan

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