By Micol Negrin
Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2002
. RusticOther cookbooks serve up Italian regional dishes, but few provide such a sweeping tour of authentic fareo, by Micol Negrin, brings to life the rich and varied cooking traditions of Italy's twenty regions. Each chapter includes ten representative recipes ranging from antipasti to desserts, as well as sidebars about curious dishes, unusual cooking techniques, and more.
The appetite-whetting recipes such as Lombardy's Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Rosemary Butter; Emilia-Romagna's Veal Roast Stuffed with Spinach, Pancetta, and Frittata; or Latium's Pike in Velvety Egg-Lemon Sauce, are accessible, highlighting relevant techniques and ingredients. Negrin also provides fascinating trivia and cultural tidbits—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.
There is a glossary and a listing of her favorite restaurants, food markets, and kitchenware shops across Italy.
Each chapter is almost a book unto itself. The sum total, Rustico, is a truly outstanding compilation that revives what too often feels like a tired and overplayed subject.