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Food and Memories of Abruzzo: The Pastoral Land Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025209159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025209152
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 8.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Forte e Gentile, strong and gentle, is the motto of Abruzzo, the Italian province east of Rome that stretches from the towering Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Anna Teresa Callen, in Food and Memories of Abruzzo, is most engaging as she shares stories of her life and presents the varied food of this little-known part of Italy where she grew up and still spends much of her time. Callen composes a symphony of sounds and aromas to surround the recipes in this memoir-cum-cookbook, describing how her grandmother, cutting pasta for pastina "into tiny dots, made a tic-tac sound with her knife," and recounting how the "pungent smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen" woke her from her daily summer siesta. Old photos from family albums add to Callen's vivid memories.

Using Callen's recipes, you can recreate Maccheroni alla Chitarra, the Abruzzese "square spaghetti" some Italian restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere now serve, and robust Porchetta, sublimely succulent spit-roasted pork served with its crackling, mahogany skin, as well as the colorful fish stew Brodetto di Pesce, which her father used to make, and L'sagne, a flour-and-water pasta unique to Abruzzo. In a balancing act, Callen gives recipes for simple dishes perfect for today's cooks along with more complicated regional specialties and spectacular holiday dishes. Her guidance for making La Cicerchiata, an ancient dessert made for Mardi Gras by assembling honey-soaked "chick peas" of fried dough, whole almonds, and candied fruit into a colorful ring, is as clear as her directions for Mozzarella all'Erbette, a combination of sliced cheese dressed with a puree of fresh herbs and capers that can be put together in minutes.

Callen crams this book with basic culinary advice and a wealth of information about the Italian kitchen, demystifying the differences between salsa, sugo, and ragu, for example, and advising how to make smooth polenta using cold liquid. In all, this is an exceptional volume for cooks, Italophiles, and anyone who likes a good story. --Dana Jacobi

From Booklist

Abruzzo produces some of Italy's most notable and appreciated dishes, specifically, the square-cornered spaghetti alla chitarra, pasta cut on a wired box resembling a guitar. But the region's relative isolation between the Appenine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea has kept its fame from spreading quite so far and wide as that of other regions of the peninsula. Callen sets out to rectify this oversight, and along the way she reflects on the family life that gave her such attachment to her homeland. Simple Abruzzo dishes such as crostini, toasted bread topped much like pizzas, have recently become commonplace in American Italian cooking, and Callen recalls how her grandmother fed cheese-and mushroom-topped crostini to her friends for an afternoon snack. Like most peasant cuisines, that of Abruzzo lets nothing go to waste; chicken giblets turn into a pasta sauce, and the bone from a whole prosciutto makes a base for bean soup. Useful for rounding out Italian regional cooking collections. Mark Knoblauch

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Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
The accompanying anecdotes add much to the flavor of the book.
pitzomom@execpc.com
Of all the books I consult, the recipes in this one are the ones my guests always beg to eat and to know the source of.
Susan B. Mccreight
The book is interspersed with accounts of her childhood in Italy, adding a more personal feel to it.
Soggyinseattle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Vincent M. Silenzio on November 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
There is so little available in English on the foods and customs of this isolated region of Italy, but even if things were otherwise, this would be a wonderful book. I bought it just before touring the Abruzzi for the first time this summer, and loved it so much after I got back, I bought a copy for my mother as a gift. It brings back the aromatic pleasures of lamb roasting over the wood coals in the family "forno," conjuring dishes to feed the soul just as much as the body. The Abruzzo has yielded it's rustic charms only reluctantly over the centuries, but it's been well worth the wait.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
My family has it's roots in Abruzzo and we loved the stories as well as the recipes in this book. The author's anecdotes shed light on some of the traditions we've been keeping as 2nd generation Italians in America, we loved this book. The recipes are authentic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan B. Mccreight on June 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. The recipes are clear, they work and everyone loves them. Of all the books I consult, the recipes in this one are the ones my guests always beg to eat and to know the source of. Flavors are clear and clean and authentic. Most ingredients are easy to find and even novice cooks will not find most recipes too difficult. I have taken classes with Anna Teresa, and the book conveys her warmth, good humor and love of cooking much as she does in class. This book is a real winner!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Soggyinseattle on February 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful collection of classic Italian cooking, and much the way my grandmother used to cook. It includes recipes for things she used to make but that I hadn't been able to find previously. There are perhaps a couple of hundred recipes, and all of them are easy to follow. The instructions don't carry on for pages, which is good, because I don't like recipes that are so lengthy I get overwhelmed. The author, who was raised in Abruzzi, includes insight with every recipe, answering questions about Italian cooking and cooking in general. For instance, I could never understand how my earlier attempts at making pasta failed, until I read about the difference in egg sizes; now my pasta is great. The book is interspersed with accounts of her childhood in Italy, adding a more personal feel to it. Maybe the only drawback for the uninitiated cook is that there are no pictures of the recipes to entice you, but don't let that stop you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jack Daigle (Jdaig@msn.com) on April 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This excellent book brought back memories of a very pleasant trip to Abruzzo where we enjoyed food cooked precisely like that in the book. We were accompanied by friends whose parents were born in Abruzzo (Pescara and Lettomannopello). We liked the book so much that we have bought a copy for our Abruzzo friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deb Mele on November 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well written book, and Ms. Callen has shared much more than just regional recipes. Although the book is packed full of traditional recipes from the Abbruzzo region, by reading this book you also get feel for Abruzzo and it's people. As the owner of my own culinary website Italian Food Forever, and someone who collects cookbooks as a hobby, I enjoy reading about the regional specialties found in Italy, and found this book a real treasure. The recipes I tried were easy to follow, and for the most part called for easy to find ingredients. My only disappointment lay in the fact there were no food photos. Apart from a a few family illustrations, I found the lack of images to be a downfall. The recipes all sounded so delicious, photos of them would have been a great asset. If you enjoy regional Italian cuisine, this book is for you.
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