Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
Rustico : Regional Italian Country Cooking
Published: October 8, 2002
Read More, Buy It
Italy, a country half the size of Texas, is composed of 20 regions, each with its own distinctly marvelous food. In Rustico, author Micol Negrin offers 10 recipes from each region--from the Alpine Val d'Aosta to the southernmost islands of
Sicily and Sardinia. Other cookbooks serve up Italian regional dishes, but few American ones, if any, provide such a sweeping tour of authentic fare. Readers will be captivated instantly by dishes such as Lombardy's Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Rosemary
Butter; Emilia-Romagna's Veal Roast Stuffed with Spinach, Pancetta, and Frittata; and Latium's Pike in Velvety Egg-Lemon Sauce, among many others--appetite-whetting food that cries out to be made. The key to Negrin's success is that she has chosen her
recipes beautifully, and has presented them accessibly, illuminating relevant techniques and ingredients throughout (Negrin encourages cooks to find the real stuff, but also offers sage substitution advice). She also provides fascinating cultural
illustration (for example, cheese production and meat curing throughout Italy are complementary activities, as the former means excess whey which, combined with bran and corn, becomes perfect porcine nourishment).
The rustic dishes range from
antipasti to dolce, and include more familiar "specialties" such as Tuscany's Summer Bread and Tomato Salad and Milan's Saffron Risotto, and the excitingly unexplored, such as Molise's Hand-Cut Pasta Squares in Asparagus Cream and Apulia's Orecchiette
with Wilted Arugula and Tomatoes. Baked goods are particularly irresistible and include Basilicata's Smoked Bread with Sweet Onion, Tomato and Basil, and herb-showered Griddle Bread from Romagna. Sweet lovers will delight in the likes of Calabria's
Chocolate Covered Roasted Figs and Mint-and-Lemon-Laced Cheese Pillows in Warm Chestnut Honey from Sardinia, among other simple desserts. With a section of basic recipes, a fine ingredient glossary, and photos throughout, the book is a true tour de
force. --Arthur Boehm
Americans have fallen in love with Italian regional food, from the casual fare of Tuscan trattorias to the more refined creations of high-end Piedmontese restaurants, from Sicily's wonderful desserts
to Emilia-Romagna's superb cheeses and cured meats. Rustico is the first American book to explore the remarkable breadth of these richly varied cuisines, devoting equal attention to each of Italy's twenty regions. This includes thorough treatment of such
places as Val d'Aosta, high in the Alps, whose fare is an intriguing mix of northern Italian, French, and Swiss influences: truffled fondue or grappa-spiked venison stew will
transport you to the slopes of Monte Bianco. Or Trentino-Alto Adige, with
the southernmost German-speaking towns in Europe, for goulasch and spaetzle. Or the scorched southern regions like Basilicata, known for their spicy dishes; the Veneto, with the aromatic foods that are a legacy of Venice's reign as the spice capital; or
Sardinia, with its Spanish-inflected cuisine.
For each of the twenty regions, Micol Negrin provides ten authentic, truly representative recipes, with a special focus on original, rustic dishes, encompassing the entire meal-antipasti to dolci.
Each chapter is introduced by an overview of the region, its culinary influences, food staples, and important recipes; each includes information on specialty products like cheeses and wines; and each explores the traditions, preparations, and life of the
region, not only through recipes but through anecdote, history, and captivating photos. Each chapter, in fact, is a book unto itself; and the sum total is the last Italian cookbook you'll ever need.
Read More, Buy It