A cornucopia of a cookbook that educates and entertains.
In recent years, an explosion of region-focused restaurants and media-savvy chefs inspired a national love affair with Italian cuisine in all its variety and complexity. Those traits shine through the latest cookbook from Italian-American, James Beard Award-winning author Famularo (A Cook’s Tour of Italy, 2005, etc.). Comprehensive in both geographic and culinary scope, it draws from all parts of the country while offering dishes for every imaginable course of a meal, including nuts and cheeses. Famularo’s emphasis on the authentic weights the book toward fresh and widely available ingredients, with a few exceptions, such as frozen fruits or eel; combinations uncommon to our palate—lemon juice and olive oil for salad dressing, a lemon-enhanced cream sauce for spaghetti; and instructions that are within the capability of ordinary cooks. Techniques for making pasta, focaccia and fruited vinegars, for example, are clear, simple and matter-of-fact. The recipe collection has a near-total overlap with A Cook’s Tour of Italy, offered here without menu plans, with a different introduction and with minor revisions in descriptions. The readability factor is high; preludes to chapters and recipes dabble exuberantly in history, travelogue and memoir. Recipe intros do merit close attention, however, lest you overlook a key item; in both the Roman Wild Cherry Tart and Roasted Chicken Salad in Round Loaf of Italian Bread, a titled ingredient does not appear in the recipe proper but in smaller print above. The occasional missing reference, formatting awkwardness or typo are puzzling exceptions to the content’s polish and top-notch quality.
A readable, real-world collection of recipes that deserves to go from bookshelf to kitchen counter again and again.