May 15, 2012

A Delicious Trip Through Italy (Cookbook Review)

This review was originally written for Shelf Awareness.

Michael Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino have followed up The Italian Farmer's Table with another beautiful, sumptuous homage to the cuisine of Italy in The Southern Italian Farmer's Table. Over the course of five months, they studied traditional recipes and methods of cooking at more than 30 farms devoted to agriturismo. (The rise of agricultural tourism has enabled farmers across the country to continue raising crops and cooking in traditional methods so the rich history and variety of Italian cuisine may continue to flourish.)

The Southern Italian Farmer's Table is broken into chapters by geographical area. Scialabba and Pellegrino begin in Sardinia, sharing anecdotes about their stays at three agriturismo venues. They then discuss the general history of Sardinian food culture and share recipes for dishes such as papassini (spice-scented, diamond-shaped cookies) and cinghiale in agrodolce (sweet and sour Sardinian boar).

Later chapters take on other regions--including Umbria, Tuscany and Sicily--in similar fashion. For each region, Scialabba and Pellegrino share regional history, descriptions of available agriturismo options, and page upon page of gorgeous photographs of the land and people (and of the staggering variety of foods). Recipes for everything from farfalle with zucchini and mussels, a traditional Puglian dish, to Calabrian white chocolate and cayenne pepper truffles will leave your mouth watering. The Southern Italian Farmer's Table is the next best thing to an agriturismo vacation of your own; a perfect mélange of cooking and armchair traveling.

Reading this book made me SO hungry. And writing up the review made me hungry all over again. I may or may not be eating handfuls of Cheez-Its as I type this...

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Please do, especially if she's a good cook!

Have you been to Italy? What's your favorite Italian dish?

The book cover image is an Amazon affiliate link.