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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peasant Cuisine from Europe's Crossroads, December 3, 2003
This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
This first book by Lidia Bastianich is both cookbook of recipes from the Istrian peninsula and Felidia Ristorante in Manhatten and a memoir of Lidia's life and family in central Europe and in the United States. The recipes occupy by far the larger portion of the book and include all of the expected elements of Italian cuisine. The culinary chapters are:
Appetizers and Soups
Salads and Vegetables
Pastas and Sauces
Fish
Meats
Game
Breads and Desserts
Spirits and Infusions
The most valuable portions of the book deal with the recipes native to Istria, especially those dealing with game and foraged vegetables and mushrooms. As the book makes clear, Istria, located near the top of the Adriatic Sea, is very near the crossroads of Europe's Roman, Slavic, and Germanic ethnic influences. The cuisine is all the more interesting for that fact. There are distinctly Austrian influences throughout the cuisine, including a recipe for an obscure Hungarian sweet crepe, palacinka, my Grandmother from Austria-Hungary would often make. The most vivid picture I get from the book is how food must have acquired the importance it has for many Europeans, since they spent so much of their time acquiring food and working with such inventive ways of making everything edible into something delicious.
The chapters on game cookery are expecially useful, including recipes for quail, Guinea hen, pheasant, squab, duck (with sauerkraut, of course), rabbit, venison, and wild boar. Of special interest is the technique, `Squazet' which is an untranslatable word meaning a braising method used in Istria, suitable primarily to slow cooked meats. A good example of making the most of what you had.
All the recipes are good as well as interesting for being examples of Istrian cuisine. However, I would recommend that for breads and pasteries, one consult a specialist in these fields. These baking recipes will work, but I know there are better techniques to be had. The sections on fresh pasta are short, but they appear to give competant results. The sections on various types of gnocchi and it's techniques are very good. I believe the recipes for mushrooms have much to offer which you may not find elsewhere.
The treatment of photographs in this book leaves something to be desired. All are presented in an old fashioned sepia tint and some, even some photographed specifically for the book by modern equipment seem to loose detail to shadows and haziness. Placing captions for chapter heading photographs strikes at the rear of the book in an appendix strikes me as a case of really poor judgement. I have a hunch the captions were forgotten until it was too late to include them on the same page as the photo. There are some lapses in copy editing. The Italian culinary term `sugo' is used in the memoir and no explanation is given for the term. It does not even appear in the appendix and is arcane enough to be absent from Larousse Gastronomique and a reference on Italian cuisine. I would have been baffled by the reference had I not encountered in the book `Cooking by Hand' by Paul Bertolli.
I give this book the highest rating because it's shortcomings do not detract from it's primary mission of being an engaging and accessible presentation of Istrian cuisine.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN RECIPES, January 3, 2007
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
I think Lidia has opened her heart and shared memories along with excellent recipes. I love this book and it is one I have out on my coffee table to just pick up and read when I have a few minutes. Her recipes are always so easy to understand and make - this cookbook is my favorite and she is an American treasure! I remember my grandmother making so many of Lidia's dishes, but she was unable to read and write and her recipes went with her when she died. Lidia has some of them in her cookbook and I thank her for that!

This book also makes a wonderful gift to someone who is Italian or just loves Italian food! Thank you Lidia!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home cooking, with elegance, August 1, 2006
This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
This is really two books, largely interleaved with each other. The cookbook is the more obvious one. It's where Lidia - never truly separable from her husband Felice - exposes the secrets of her kitchen. Correction: kitchens, plural. These are the recipes that have kept the lines long outside of her restaurants back to the early 1970s. Struggling against American palates trained on TV dinners, they addressed and quite possibly created a clientele who discovered that there was more to Italian food than tomato sauce.

Lidia has extensive professional education, undertaken while she was a young mother and beginning restauranteur (this is the weaker sex?!?). She and her husband traveled most of Europe, studying the national and even regional specialties of each culinary tradition. Although training and research inform this book, that's not where it really comes from. It comes, through her personal alchemy, from her grandmother's truck garden. That's where the second book within this one binding comes in. That book is Lidia's culinary biography, from her earliest girlhood in Adriatic Italy up to the book's 1990 writing.

The family wasn't rich. Meat was a rarity, and every part of the animal went into the pot: heart, kidney, liver, blood for black sausage, and (in this pre-BSE book) brain. Produce was fresh from the garden, though, and slaughtering the animal was part of cooking with meat. Plain cooking can be exquisite cooking, however. Lidia's close contact with every aspect of the food gave her a bone-deep appreciation for unique character of ever plant and animalin her kitchen. Her secret is really no secret at all: it lies in using the finest and freshest ingredients, and in knowing the preparation that lets each be the best it can.

//wiredweird
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIDIA RULES Mia Cucina, June 18, 2008
This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
I have ONE cookbook series in my kitchen. Its Lidia's! Being Italian myself, I enjoy her cooking shows and find her cookbook(s) to be thorough, easy to follow and absolutely delicious! Bravo Lidia!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 4, 2014
This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
love it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good recipes and a fun read., July 3, 2014
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Victoria E. Michaels (Hollis, NH United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
Love her books!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, May 8, 2014
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joan rodgers (SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
Filled with great ides and easy to follow, Gives good and simple explainations for preparation . I keep it in the kitchen and handy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Have many of Lidia's cookbooks, April 2, 2014
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
Have tried many of Lidia's recipes and haven't been disappointed yet. I also watch her TV Cooking Programs when I can catch them. She is a very accomplished culinary professional and I have many of her cookbooks. If you like to cook Italian foods and try new recipes, you will find a treasure chest of new experiences in this book. Just be ready for a flood of compliments if you are serving party guests. They will be impressed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - love to read about the history of her family!, October 16, 2013
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
I love the authentic Italian recipes! Great book with simple home made recipes, comments on history, family and memories of Italy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift, January 4, 2013
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This review is from: La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast (Paperback)
This book of recipes and stories made the perfect gift for my friend who LOVES to cook. My friend watches Lidia's cooking show. She enjoys not only the recipes in this volume but the stories and pictures as well. I am so glad that this book was available through Amazon at such a great price that I could share Lidia's recipes with my friend.
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La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast
La Cucina Di Lidia: Recipes and Memories from Italy's Adriatic Coast by Lidia Bastianich (Paperback - April 8, 2003)
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