If you dream of Italy -- and who does not? -- be prepared to fall in love with this extraordinary cookbook. Written by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, author of The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna
, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food
(winner of both the James Beard and Julia Child/IACP Cookbook-of-the-Year Awards), it is every bit the equal of its celebrated predecessor.
Read its exuberant pages, eat its lusty dishes, and you enter a landscape vibrant with rural life. You are one with the terrain. In some sense, you are home. That, of course, is the miracle of Italy -- no matter where we come from, we want to be a part of it. And the miracle of The Italian Country Table is its ability to take us there.
And what a journey! You will never be as impatient to get into your kitchen as when you are planning a meal from this book. Two hundred recipes, personally collected from home cooks throughout the length and breadth of Italy, will keep calling you back.
Who could resist the "Gatto" di Patate, a mashed-potato "lasagne" from the Neapolitan countryside? Or a Tuscan Mountain Supper of warm beans tossed with an herbed tomato sauce and eaten with tart greens? Or Pasta of the Grape Harvest, a Sicilian dish of grapes, red wine, orange zest, spices, pistachios and linguine? Or Chocolate Polenta Pudding Cake?
Kasper, host of Public Radio's The Splendid Table, is a master teacher who thinks about cooking in a way that is radically distinctive. Her chapter on tomatoes and tomato sauces, a treasure by itself, will change the way you think about them -- and cook them -- forever. Her guide to buying and saucing pasta contains more useful facts than many books that devote themselves to pasta exclusively.
Kasper, the grandchild of Italian immigrants, describes herself as someone with a love of lingering "in places where life changes slowly." This personal book abounds with stories of artisans, farmers and family. It is a portrait of Italian country life.
Whether you read The Italian Country Table, cook from it or use it to plan a trip (there is an appendix that lists guest farms, country hotels, restaurants and museums), you have only to turn its pages to be transported to a rustic Italy that few of us know, but all of us long for.