From an American food writer and cooking teacher, an informed and enthusiastic culinary tour of the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, famous for its fervently upheld cooking traditions and as the source of tortellini, Bolognese ragÃ¹, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar. This last ingredient appears here in everything from pesto to rabbit stew, veal scallops, and an enticing pot-rotated lamb with wine and olives; and Kasper, who devotes several pages to the mysteries and hierarchies of balsamic vinegar, passes along a tip for simulating the expensive ""craftsman"" quality with more common versions. It's the kind of cookbook that comes with a bibliography and with copious historical and other background notes on the recipes and the different local traditions within the region. It also comes with descriptions high in swooning superlatives; fortunately, the recipes--many of them local specialties unfamiliar elsewhere--live up to the billing, both in their attention to flavor-enhancing detail and in the certifiably splendid nature of the dishes. Serious culinary explorers, Italian food enthusiasts, and readers of gastronomic travelogues will put this on their list.