Italia by the legendary Antonio Carluccio
Savour the recipes and customs of Italy's regions
By Laura McKinnon
For anyone interested in Italian cooking, Antonio Carluccio's Italia – the Recipes and Customs of the Regions has got the lot in terms of gastronomic insight.
First published in 2005, it was re-released in 2013, and there are no surprises why. For the budding Italian chef or for someone who has (or wants to have) Italian cooking in their veins, there is bound to be something useful, delicious and interesting.
All the different regions of Italy are represented in order to showcase cultural differences in food across the nation.
There are so many impressive recipes in Antonio Carluccio's Italia, and knowing full well that each dish comes from different regions within Italy where tastes have evolved differently based on various invasions and produce available, it makes it hard to pick stand out recipes.
However, Polenta on the Table comes close to being tops for me. This recipe has its origins in Abruzzi e Molise, is hearty and is designed to be shared. ‘Steaming polenta is poured on to the middle of the spianatora (special round wooden table), a ragu goes into the middle and everyone tucks in.’ Perfect for winters and cold nights when you have close friends around for dinner.
The Calzone Pugliese, or Onion Pie, of the Puglia region is another hearty recipe that requires salty ricotta cheese, pecorino cheese and white wine – need I say more? This pie, which is also referred to as Pizza di Acqua Viva, is ‘traditionally eaten to celebrate the feast days of the two saints, Dottori Cosimo and Damiano.’ Whilst it is designed to be cooked and eaten as a meal to be shared, this dish also gives you the ability to put some away in the fridge for the next day’s lunch or dinner. Tasty and hearty – another winner.
The recipes in Italia are extensive, varied and truly representative of each Italian region. The book also showcases produce particular to each region. The index is extensive, there is a ‘Basic recipes’ section (for pasta dough and stocks) and a significant amount of extra information about each region and its culinary history and specialities.
Italia is an essential purchase for anyone with a genuine interest in Italian cooking. There are few cookbooks available that are as extensive in coverage of Italian cuisine as this one (see some more below). Not to mention the historical accounts of each region and the additional information about typical regional dishes.
Antonio Carluccio's Italia has obviously been a labour of love that sees a cook sharing the food he knows and has adored over his lifetime. It is a book you can keep in your kitchen knowing full well that any recipe you create from it is authentic and bound to impress as much as any Italian restaurant ever could.
It's one of those cookbooks that you will come back to time and time again with well-worn bookmarks or dog ears that indicate your favourite recipes. A cookbook that will be stained with pasta dough and various Italian sauces in no time!
Italia – the Recipes and Customs of the Regions by Antonio Carluccio is published in Australia by Quadrille, an imprint of Hardie Grant Books (London 2013 2ed; hc, 256 pp) and retails in Australia for RRP A$29.95
Antonio Carluccio’s Italia is available for puchase online via Booko here »
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