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    Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian

    Regional Foods of Southern Italy

    Blasi, Marlena de

    Viking Adult
    Published: August 1, 1999
    ISBN: 0670883840

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    Book Description
    In Regional Foods of Southern Italy, Marlena De Blasi looks into the essential spirit of the eight regions encompassing the lower half of Italy south from Rome and out to the islands west of the tip of the boot. She believes that to cook from a particular region, understanding its history is as important as gathering recipes. "A cuisine that aspires to dignity even in the midst of insufficiency," this cooking of the poor is based on sheep's milk cheeses, swordfish, wild bitter greens, and whatever else cruel and capricious yet bountiful nature provides locally. De Blasi has unearthed culinary treasures, from the wine-stewed rabbit served with honey-and-spice-glazed chestnuts in the manner of Nicola Taurino, a hunter/innkeeper from Abigliano, to the potato pie in the style of Biddamanna, a town where Sardinians still cook communally on feast days. For this savory pie, potatoes mashed with garlic, nutmeg, clove, and orange zest are enveloped in a pastry crust crisp with ground corn meal and piquant with pecorino cheese.

    The story of visiting restaurants serving Carciofi Alla Giudia, "Golden-Green Crisped Roman Roses," followed by a recipe for this Roman specialty is typical of this book's format. It makes this a good choice for armchair cooks and travelers. Ambitious cooks, particularly of local heritage, will get profound satisfaction out of preparing the 150 often complicated or time-consuming, authentic, and rarely-found recipes De Blasi has tailored to work with U.S. ingredients. While its literary language becomes annoyingly baroque at times, with olive oil described as a "tribute of fat, yellow juice," this unique book offers a perceptive look at the essence and substance of southern Italian food. --Dana Jacobi

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