Did you ever watch the movie ‘Moonstruck’ with Cher? It’s one of my top ten films of all time. Much of the action is set in the family kitchen – a room of significant proportions and a great deal of charm. We witness breakfast being made (in fact a couple of those) and dinner being served. We visit the deli run by uncle and aunt and we are enveloped in Italian-American heritage. Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Memoir of Food and Family gives me the same warm glow as Moonstruck …and that was an Oscar-winning film!
Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delightful tome. It will be appreciated by American readers but equally by overseas booklovers, who will consider this not only a cookbook but also something of a travelogue.
The author, Daniel Paterna, introduces us to recipes handed down through his family and tells the colourful history of Italian-Americans in Brooklyn. He is a third-generation Italian-American so he is something of an authority. One meets purveyors of fine Italian foods and enjoys festivals and celebrations, and all the delicious and traditional dishes that go with them.
Part of a rich culture
Feast of the Seven Fishes has the feel of a personal and hand-typed cookbook, and the pictures add so much. They are images not only of tempting dishes but of the people who have prepared them, contributed to them and appreciated them. There are grocers and bakers, grandparents and children, and all of them are part of a rich culture. This is a book about real home cooking, and it’s comforting and generous.
I personally love any cookbook which offers recipes for 8, 14 or 16 diners. When the author can confidently state that his family have been making this recipe for decades then I am totally hooked. These dishes have a story – even the bowl for making bread has a story!
I have quite a few must-try recipes from Feast of the Seven Fishes. First must be the family Lasagna and that truly is to feed a crowd. Calamari Ripieni is stuffed squid cooked with a tomato sauce. Present the sauce with pasta to start, and then the squid to follow. Two dishes for the price of one! Torta Dolce di Ricotta is a stunner of a dessert and perfect for any celebration.
Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Memoir of Food and Family is heartwarming. The pages are filled with much-loved dishes as well as hard-working characters. It shows Italian Americans and Brooklyn in a very good light, and will doubtless encourage many a food-inspired tour of these streets. I am booking my flight!
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Author: Daniel Paterna
Published by: Powerhouse Books
Price: £30.00 $39.95US