The realization that Italy is shaped like a boot is about as old a notion as footwear itself. But how often is the heel of that boot, the region called Puglia, ever considered? Rarely, to be sure. It's not just the glorious, far-reaching history of Puglia that begs to be explored, but also the living culture and
the living foods. Nancy Harmon Jenkins, author of the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
, has at least taken on the food of Puglia, and through that portal we catch glimpses of the country's people, culture, and history. For Jenkins is no mere cookbook author, and Flavors of Puglia
is no bottomless sump of recipes cast willy-nilly upon the page. She brings a keen intellect to her work as well as a passion for food, people, and the connections that can be made at a well-laid table--connections unlike any others. She is an anthropologist of the human soul as revealed through food, and the recipes she selects push the reader into a much deeper understanding of the soul of Puglia than would otherwise be possible. And the bonus? The sheer simplicity and deliciousness of it all.
"The cuisine of Puglia was shaped by the cuisine of poverty," Jenkins reports. But the region is unusual for the way the poor and the wealthy eat the same dishes, the same foods; "the rich simply eat more," as Jenkins says. So the point of the food is to take a few ingredients--never a lot of meat--and maximize the flavors. The results, both heavenly and healthy, turn the cook back to the origins of good food and diet. Jenkins's great trick is that she can make you smell the dish prepared on the page and even see the ocean change color as the sun fades and night embraces the land.
From the Publisher
"Puglia, home of my paternal grandparents, has always held a special place in my heart. With the opening paragraphs of Nancy Harmon Jenkins' introduction, I felt myself falling yet again under the spell of Puglia's charm. Nancy's painstaking research and delicious, authentic recipes have created a Puglia-primer for all of us to enjoy."
--Michael Romano, Union Square Café, New York
"Nancy Harmon Jenkins opens the windows onto a culinary world that's new to most of us--the kitchens and countryside of Puglia. What's so great about this book is her wonderful esthetic, backed up by her impeccable research: she knows exactly what she's talking about and she writes so well about this food that you can almost taste it."
--Alice Waters, author of Chez Panisse Vegetables