Wednesday, 1 June 2011

My subjective guide to culinary books, part 2

I have to admit for the last few weeks I have been obsessed with Italian food. Since we know where we are going to spend this years holiday, like a pure maniac I read and watch anything that has something common with Italy. I always loved Italian food, although it is quite difficult to describe Italian cuisine as a whole, it has some many different regional specialities. Finally as an adult with mature taste I can go to Italy and enjoy their food. I was dreaming about this for years.

I mentioned about my holidays because it happens to be connected to my new cookbook and TV series that was on BBC recently. I love BBC series because they are very interesting and well produced, but when I first heard about new series about Italian cuisine, I wasn't overexcited. Until I saw first episode. 

Picture: BBC

Antonio Carluccio i Gennaro Contaldo, are well know in UK. Over 30 years ago separately left their native Italy for Britain where, in time, they met, worked together. Antonio was a teacher and mentor to younger Gennaro,  he has written thirteen books and developed successful restaurants  Carluccios. Gennaro is highly respected chef in London, one of the most likable people appearing on TV, and he is also know as the one who taught Jami eOliver all he know about Italian Food. Both Antonio and Gennaro established themselves as leading authorities on Italian cooking.

"Two Greedy Italians"   really touched me so I simply had to buy book written to accompany this primetime BBC series. It is not the first time that I followed the TV series and bought a book that accompanied it, this is quite common in UK with cooking shows, as you can see it is quite easy to swallow the bait.

First of all few words about TV series. It clearly was not a show about cooking or beauty of Italian landscape only (the views are stunning! I love Campania cost) , but it was rather sentimental and amazing journey back to their homeland to reconnect with their culinary heritage, explore past and current traditions and reveal the very soul of Italian gastronomy based upon history of this country and social observation. Exploration sometimes sad and mournful as they discover that women nowadays do not want to cook, young generation don't know how to make homemade tortellini, and not every family gather together for a meal. This is a tale about what created Italian cooking -  regional ingredients, local and fresh whatever sea of mountains offer or perhaps what at the time grew in orchards or olive groves.

Picture: Amazon
Both gentleman with this typical Italian passion talk not only about food but also about history, but first of all they share their autobiography, take a trip down memory lane, mention their mothers and grandmothers. This spark in their eyes when they see attractive woman in red dress, this sheer joy of meeting old places and people from the past, this warm welcoming anywhere they went that I almost envy. This is what made me watch the series and still coming back to it. This and also tasty and simple recipes convinced me and I bought a book.

And how about the book itself? First of all it is beautifully illustrated. It contains lots of pictures (my favourite ever genious Chris Terry!), however not every recipe is accompanied by a picture. Instead there are some lovely pictures of people and places that makes the reader feel like a journey to Italy. Also it has lots of notes on socio-cultural aspects of Italy and its food and dining culture.

There are over 100 recipes, clear and short, arranged in four sections: starters, first courses, second/main courses, vegetables, fruits and desserts and snacks. I like the idea of original names of the dishes, that are translated into English underneath. Thanks to this I managed to learn some new Italian words that can be quite handy on holiday. Please note that not every recipe that was on the TV show is in the book, however there are many that did not appear on TV. Perhaps it would help to get the whole picture if they release the TV series that accompanies the book on DVD (if they are going to release one).

I am rather experienced cook so I do not have to cook anything from this book to recommend it. I cam see it is book about genuine Italian food that Italians cook. It is a good book for somebody trying to get into Italian cuisine, home made like Italian Mamma would serve, it is nice guide to real Italian cooking. It is also great book to read not only for using the recipes in the kitchen.

If you are, just like Antonio and Genarro greedy for food (and cookbooks!), greedy for life and passionate about not only Italian cooking I am sure you will like this book.

Antonio Carluccio, Gennaro Contaldo "Two Greedy Italians"
Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 2011
Hardcover, 208 pages

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!