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    Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian

    Food and Memories of Abruzzo: The Pastoral Land

    Callen, Anna Teresa

    John Wiley and Sons
    Published: August 10, 1998
    ISBN: 0025209159

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    Book Description
    Forte e Gentile, strong and gentle, is the motto of Abruzzo, the Italian province east of Rome that stretches from the towering Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Anna Teresa Callen, in Food and Memories of Abruzzo, is most engaging as she shares stories of her life and presents the varied food of this little-known part of Italy where she grew up and still spends much of her time. Callen composes a symphony of sounds and aromas to surround the recipes in this memoir-cum-cookbook, describing how her grandmother, cutting pasta for pastina "into tiny dots, made a tic-tac sound with her knife," and recounting how the "pungent smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen" woke her from her daily summer siesta. Old photos from family albums add to Callen's vivid memories.

    Using Callen's recipes, you can recreate Maccheroni alla Chitarra, the Abruzzese "square spaghetti" some Italian restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere now serve, and robust Porchetta, sublimely succulent spit-roasted pork served with its crackling, mahogany skin, as well as the colorful fish stew Brodetto di Pesce, which her father used to make, and L'sagne, a flour-and-water pasta unique to Abruzzo. In a balancing act, Callen gives recipes for simple dishes perfect for today's cooks along with more complicated regional specialties and spectacular holiday dishes. Her guidance for making La Cicerchiata, an ancient dessert made for Mardi Gras by assembling honey-soaked "chick peas" of fried dough, whole almonds, and candied fruit into a colorful ring, is as clear as her directions for Mozzarella all'Erbette, a combination of sliced cheese dressed with a puree of fresh herbs and capers that can be put together in minutes.

    Callen crams this book with basic culinary advice and a wealth of information about the Italian kitchen, demystifying the differences between salsa, sugo, and ragu, for example, and advising how to make smooth polenta using cold liquid. In all, this is an exceptional volume for cooks, Italophiles, and anyone who likes a good story. --Dana Jacobi

    Product Description:
    From the Introduction: "Years ago, at the beginning of my culinary career, I wanted to write a cookbook on Abruzzo, my native region of Italy, a land of colorful festivals, brooding traditions, gargantuan banquets, and ancient superstitions, where the accidental spilling of oil is a sure sign of tragedy. I also wanted to share the experience of growing up in a family of good cooks where food was an expression of love and caringand#133;. Many dishes from Abruzzo, such as maccheroni alla chitarra ("guitar" macaroni), brodetto di pesce (fish stew), and porchetta (roast pig), have, of course, traveled. But most of them are still the treasured secrets of families. They travel no further than the next generationand#133;. My family gave me a passion for food. The rituals that were practiced in my grandmother's kitchen are still with me. All this has remained part of my life, and cooking for family and friends is a constant joy for me. To celebrate and make people happy are the reasons why I wrote this book." Praise for Anna Teresa Callen's Menus for Pasta: "A culinary gem for everyone who wants to bring the true flavor of Italy into their home." -Paula Wolfert, author of Mediterranean Grains and Greens "Of course one can eat pasta as a main course. It is how my mother would serve us pasta every Wednesday and Sunday when I was a boy. And this wonderful evocative book richly demonstrates that pasta can indeed be the centerpiece of an elegant meal. Bravo pasta, brava Anna Teresa!" -Fred Feretti, columnist for Gourmet magazine

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