When lovers of good food open this lavish volume they’ll find themselves on a lively excursion through Italy’s eight distinct and innovative culinary regions. It’s both a beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled cookbook and an armchair guide to Italy’s people and traditions, from the Alpine Piedmont area in the north to the southern island of Sicily. A separate chapter for each of eight regions opens with a magnificent landscape photo on a two-page spread, followed by several photo-filled pages describing the region’s people, their way of life, and their locally-produced foods and wines. The rest of each chapter is devoted to the region’s recipes—two dozen or more recipes per region—beautifully illustrated and presented in the typical Italian style for hearty five-course dinners:Antipasti—appetizer dishes that can range from a light seafood salad to a bruschetta, or perhaps a selection of cheeses, processed meats, or marinated vegetablesPrimi Piatti—the first course, which is typically a soup, or a serving of imaginatively prepared pasta or risottoSecondi Piatti—the second course, which is most often a hearty meat or fish dishContorni—a tasty vegetable dish, often an enticing saladDolci—something sweet to complete the dinner, often a delightful pastry with cream or fruit or both.
Recipes include a delightful pasta alle melanzane (pasta with eggplant) from the Abruzzi; agnello ai carciofi (lamb cooked with artichokes) from Tuscany; risotto alla pilota (a risotto with sausage) from Lombardy; and babà all’ amaretto, a delectable example of dolci from Sicily, to cite just a few of this book’s 220 superb dishes. The authors present wonderful ways to prepare and serve meats, fish, pasta, sauces, fruits, vegetables, soups, salads, and desserts, and also offer suggestions for regional wines that go perfectly with each delightful Italian meal.