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    Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian

    Ciao Italia in Umbria: Recipes and Reflections from the Heart of Italy

    Esposito, Mary Ann

    St. Martin's Press
    Published: November 1, 2002
    ISBN: 0312303297

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    Book Description
    Cookbooks about Tuscan cuisine abound, but the food of its easterly neighbor, Umbria, remains mostly unexplored. Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia in Umbria meets this dearth handily. A "traveling cookbook," it showcases the region's healthy, rustic food while providing a first-person look at its restaurants, home cooks, and singular occupations, like truffle hunting. The core of the book--an offshoot of Esposito's PBS series Ciao Italia--is its 60 easy-to-do recipes, which feature the area's most notable and delicious products, including olive oil, black truffles, farro, and wine. If the relatively few formulas provided leave readers hungry for more, those offered, such as Carp with Rosemary and Fennel and Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Pecorino Cheese, couldn't be more inviting.

    The recipes grow from Esposito's narratives. For example, her truffle hunt chapter yields the traditional Penne with Truffles and Cream as well as the more singular Veal with Black Truffle and Strawberry Sauce. Similarly, a section on local female chefs leads to two unusual gnocchi recipes--prune- and zucchini-filled--while one on Umbrian flatbreads offers formulas for oil-fried brustengo, spinach-filled torta sul testo, and a luscious prosciutto pie. Seafood is well represented, as are recipes for the pork delicacies of Norcia, including the delicious Sweet Pork Sausages with Grapes. Readers will also enjoy making sweets like Chocolate Spumone, exemplary strufoli (honey balls), and addictive mezzalune, almond crescent cookies. With an "address book" of outstanding Umbrian restaurants, the book provides a compelling culinary tour of a region too often neglected by cookbooks but, happily, celebrated here. --Arthur Boehm

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