Book review – Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy

Friday 27th April 2012 11:16

Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy
By Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo
Quadrille, £20
ISBN 978-1-84949-109-9

Following on from the success of the Two Greedy Italians cookbook, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo are back with another look at the diverse cooking of their home country.

Like its predecessor, Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy examines the regional differences of the country's cuisine but this time it looks at it from a topographical point of view. Not just a novel way to divide a collection of recipes, the idea is that the climate, agricultural opportunities and availability of produce have shaped the way Italians eat. But the common theme is the importance of food to the way of life, whichever part of the country you're in.

An in-depth introduction on the importance of geography in defining regional culinary styles is followed by three distinct sections: comfort food from the mountains; fresh flavours from the coast; and the larder of the river and plains.

Carluccio and Contaldo wrote recipes for each chapter, adding helpful comments and tips that enable the reader to make tweaks while understanding the background of the dishes.

The recipes from the colder climate of the mountains tend to be rich in calories, carbohydrates and proteins to help the body withstand the winter chills. Dishes such as Carluccio's pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta with potatoes and Swiss chard) or Contaldo's gnocchi di castagne con burro e salvia (chestnut gnocchi with a butter and sage sauce) would make wonderful winter warmers on many menus.

A trip to the coast turns up, unsurprisingly, a feast of fish and seafood recipes, given that Italy is almost entirely surrounded by water. Contaldo's branzino agli agrumi (sea bass with citrus fruit) and Carluccio's involtini di pesce spada (swordfish rolls) are just a couple of the many recipes in this section that scream their credentials as light, fresh and flavoursome, while also remaining relatively simple to prepare.

The friends culminate their journey with a trip to the plains, most of which are coastal, narrow slopes between sea and mountains. Reaping everything they possibly can from the fertile soil, the Italians are keen to cultivate as much as possible from the combination of land and abundant water. As well as fruits and vegetables, this is where rice for risotto and wheat for pasta is grown.

The book includes spectacular photography by David Loftus, not just of the appetising food but also the beautiful landscapes, inviting the reader to take their own gastronomic tour of a country so passionate and plentiful.

If you like this, you'll love these:
The Italian Cookery Course: 400 Authentic Regional Recipes and 40 Masterclasses on Technique Katie Caldesi
The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking Marcella Hazan

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford


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