This is an expanded American edition of a British book that grew out of a (London) Sunday Times series by Roden, an Egyptian-born London resident best known for her classic Book of Middle Eastern Food (1972). For the series, Roden spent a year traveling through Italy, sampling food and interviewing cooks and scholars, and she has supplemented that experience with research in Italian-language regional cookbooks. The book, then, balances tradition and current practice, reflecting how Italians cook today (once-regional dishes have spread through Italy; northerners have taken to pasta; bouillon cubes are a common staple) while still seeking out and supporting regional traditions. On Apulia, for example, women still make their distinctively shaped pasta ""sitting at a table in the street, with friends all around."") Roden's recipes range from humble Sicilian rice balls to an oven-roasted suckling pig from Tuscany, from lasagna with meat sauce and bÃ‰chamel, as made in Parma, to cuttlefish in ink with risotto from the Veneto. Most are relatively simple--a problem, in fact, is that some are so simple that without good fresh Italian ingredients (tomatoes with flavor, fresh mozzarella) there's not much there. Certainly there is no shortage of regional Italian food books, but Roden's engaging writing and her selection of distinctive, undemanding recipes makes this entry (to be heavily photo-illustrated) an attractive choice.