Ancona to the Midwest: A Culinary Journey


Among long-winded bouts of personal history, Cortellini’s culinary memoir peppers a lifetime of mouth-watering recipes from across two continents.
Cortellini has led a well-traveled life—a fact reflected in the selection of alluring recipes featured here, ranging from nostalgic comfort food to higher-end cuisine. At a young age in the early 1950s, he migrated to the U.S. from Italy with his mother and brother to meet their father there. After first living in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, the family eventually settled in Indianapolis, where his mother continued to cook in the Italian tradition but with modifications to adapt to the ingredients available and affordable in America. Her culinary innovation means many of the Italian recipes included in the book have a distinctly American touch, such as lasagna that substitutes Kraft American cheese with pimento and Kraft Swiss cheese for besciamella sauce (Cortellini does admit, however, that “the traditional version using besciamella sauce is far superior”). As an adult, Cortellini had a career as a banking and finance executive, which uprooted him and his wife to several European countries, including France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom in addition to his native Italy. The international travel allowed him to expand his personal menu beyond his mother’s Italian home-cooking, with dishes such as avocats aux crevettes (avocado with shrimp and American sauce) from Luxembourg; still, hearty Italian remains the staple. The tempting recipes, even the more complicated concoctions, are approachable and well-explained thanks to Cortellini’s frankness and attention to detail. Those traits become a burden, however, in the time between recipes when personal history takes center stage. Here, the text becomes bogged down in lengthy discussions, such as one on the process of strengthening internal controls at a technology company. Names of seemingly every friend, acquaintance and one-time employee are dutifully offered as well—something that is sure to delight the author’s inner circle, though it makes for a laborious reading experience for anyone else. Readers might be tempted to skim these parts or simply skip them altogether and go straight to where the book really shines: the recipes.

A delicious buffet of family recipes with too generous a helping of memoir.

Pub Date: June 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615898858

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Cortellini Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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