This is another of those smart chunky books from Haus Publishing who only present top-notch works, and Tasting Italy by Alice Vollenweider is amongst them.
Italy has a reputation as a food paradise. Not only because there is an abundance of quality fresh produce but because the Italian housewife sets high standards in both market and restaurant. It has been argued that Italy has the highest general standard for restaurant food in Europe. It might be mostly Italians that argue, though, and they are indeed very good at it!
This is a marvellously well-written travelogue with a good selection of classic Italian recipes. All the main regions of Italy are included so you have a comprehensive guide to all things culinary, and quite a bit on Italian literature, history and culture. Alice walks us through city streets and even suggests favourite eateries.
The author’s words paint pictures of Italian food in a truly charming and mouthwatering fashion. She writes this of a stay with friends in Florence: “I still clearly remember climbing up beautiful narrow stone steps all the way to the seventh floor with my suitcase before entering the enormous bare living room, with a fire burning in the grate and a spit turning. This friend welcomed me with a meal I shall never forget. It consisted of just grilled meat, unsalted country bread and pure, good Chianti.”
Tasting Italy has recipes that are authentic and tempting. They are conveniently indexed at the back of the book for easy retrieval when you decide that, yes, a real Italian meal is tonight’s plan. There are around eighty recipes so there will be something for every taste. They honestly are not technically challenging but are very flavourful, with the expected Italian flair for the elegant rustic.
There are quite a few familiar dishes here: Minestrone, Panna Cotta, Risotto alla Milanese but there are so many others that might be new delights: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca or Whores’ Spaghetti is robust and full bodied… just like many of its namesakes! Cassata alla Siciliana or Sicilian Ricotta Cake is so simple but a real stunner for the end of your Italian dinner party.
This is an enjoyable insight into the Italian attitude to food and eating. It’s a book to take with you on your next trip.
Tasting Italy – A Culinary Journey
Author: Alice Vollenweider
Published by: Haus Publishing
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018