Customer Reviews: My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South
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on October 27, 2010
I've been searching for a cookbook and travel book with Calabrian roots for so long. Many books are 'Southern Italian' but only delve into the well-known Neopolitan recipies. I am a first-generation Italian-American, whose parents immigrated from Calabria so when I saw these recipes in print I almost cried. Very authentic and fun to see the dialect in there too. The history, stories, recipes and photos are outstanding. Thank you for writing this book. Finalmente! p.s. note to author on the 'Peaches' dessert, you can get Alkermes liquor flavoring in the states, Torre Products in New York carries it. I believe they are in Brooklyn and ship. And if you are reading this wondering if you should buy this book, don't hesitate. I bought a few copies for family to pass on our roots and recipes.
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As some background, I am an American of Calabrian heritage who has been living in my ancestors' village in Calabria since 2003; I received this book for review on my blog, Bleeding Espresso.


Rosetta Costantino was born in Calabria and moved to America with her family at age 14. Although they left behind much of what was familiar to them, the Costantino family never lost their culinary traditions -- and now Rosetta shares them with us in My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South.

When paging through My Calabria, you feel like an honorary member of the family at the table as you learn about how Rosetta's father recreated their Calabrian garden in Oakland, California; how various members of the family make the same dish; and also the 11 ingredients every Calabrian pantry should have on hand.

Rosetta also shares information about the historical and cultural influences on Calabrian cuisine and lifestyle, so aside from being a wonderful collection of recipes (150) that includes appetizers through dessert, My Calabria is simply a wonderful resource book on the region -- you're getting so much more than a cookbook here.

The recipes themselves are authentic as they come and easy to follow -- one of the best things about Calabrian cooking is that it's user-friendly as it uses so few ingredients -- and the book is just gorgeous. There are plenty of full-page and other sized color photos throughout, not only of recipes but also of various sights from around Calabria.

From a personal standpoint as someone who has been making Calabrian food ever since I could cook -- first from my grandmother's recipes and now also from my mother-in-law's -- I give this book five very full espresso cups out of five. Rosetta is a wonderful tour guide through this region's food, history, and culture, and I highly recommend My Calabria for anyone who is interested in Calabria, southern Italy, or southern Italian cuisine.
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on November 3, 2010
I've lived in Calabria since 2006 and was sent a copy of My Calabria to review for my website, My Bella Vita. I wrote a review there, as well as a few other sites, but since people come here to buy the book-and I always read Amazon reviews before making my own purchases-I wanted to write something here, as well.

It is hard to find reliable English-language information on Calabria and I loved that this cookbook was more than just a collection of recipes. Yes, it is chock-full of authentic Calabrian cooking, homemade pasta, sauces, meat, fish, veggie and dessert dishes, but it also has the history of various places in Calabria, bright, vivid photos (of more than just the food) and it is written in an easy, conversational tone that makes for easy reading.

If you are an Italophile or fan of Calabria, you'll enjoy this cookbook.
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on November 20, 2010
Having travelled to Italy a few times taking cooking classes and experiencing authentic Italian Food, I am often disappointed when I look through/buy Italian cookbooks because the recipes are so "Americano"...This cookbook is anything but and I consider it one of the best cookbooks I have ever purchased. In this book, you are getting the true deal-the author emigrated from Italy to America when she was 14, and she and her family have made a little Italy in their California homes-canning, preserving and growing large gardens that are so common in Calabria (the pictures are in the book and are just delightful!) The author also gives history and insight into the Italian and Calabrian culture, and many of her recipes I recognise from my time in Calabria earlier this year, when I spent time with an Italian family learning the recipes of the region.
There are many many recipes-from preserving, appetizers, primi, secondi, contorni and dolce. Many of them contain just a few ingredients that are not difficult to find at your local grocery store or supermarket and are very easy to make!
And that is the beauty of Italian food-simple and delicious-not the cheesey, greasy and meatball laden sauces that somehow take over most Italian menus! If you are looking for an AUTHENTIC Italian cookbook, this is it. On a side note, the author conducts cooking classes in California and I am seriously thinking of making a trip to partake!
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VINE VOICEon December 6, 2010
A Calabrian native, Costantino begins this big, glossy, colorful book of traditional recipes with a tour of the region and its essential foods, a bit of family history and key ingredients of the Calabrian kitchen. Luscious photos accompany many dishes.

Organization is by course and each recipe includes background, serving suggestions and wine suggestions. Baked Fresh Anchovies with Breadcrumbs, for instance (Tortiera d'Alici) includes directions for cleaning the anchovies (or sardines) and recommends serving this "savory cake" with a salad or vegetable, preceded by pasta with a seafood or vegetable sauce.

Costantino includes a whole chapter of home-preserved pantry items, from sun-dried zucchini or sweet red peppers to various oil-cured vegetables and fish to home-made paprika and candied orange peel.

There are recipes for fresh homemade ricotta, rennet and pasta, fennel sausage, bread starter, pizza doughs and Calabrian Rusks. There's Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings, Ribbon Pasta with Chickpeas, Risotto with Fresh Mussels, Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Potatoes Layered with Artichokes and Breadcrumbs, Sweet Christmas Ravioli with Chestnut and Chocolate Filling.

This is the real thing, mouth-wateringly authentic, with a proud joy in the time-honored, leisurely work.
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on June 20, 2012
I really love this cookbook. My father was born in Calabria, so I eagerly awaited it's release when I read about it in Saveur magazine before it came out. I own over 400 cookbooks now and over 200 of them are Italian. I'm always happy to expand my regional Italian cookbooks, especially a region as ignored as Calabria. I am particularly interested in cookbooks that don't Americanize everything in terms of ingredients and cooking techniques. I want to learn about traditional cooking and preserving methods and this definitely fits the bill. Since I can't travel to Italy as much as I'd like, having authentic recipes like this can really help me travel through the food I cook and serve. Dinner can transport me there for a lot less money!

This is a very personal book and was clearly written with a lot of love and integrity. It's her story and she shares some wonderful tales and family recipes. I've tried many of the dishes and they are all wonderful. One thing I really love is all of her recipes for homemade items like limoncello, homemade sausage, homemade fresh ricotta, & her preserving techniques. My family does all of these things and I am often in awe of how capable they are of canning and preserving anything and everything. Even though my family can help, nothing is written down or explained very clearly, so these recipes will be a wonderful resource!

Some of these recipes have become important in our household - the ricotta is amazing and my husband always insists on making a double batch! Her recipe for candied orange peel is superb. They are the best candied orange peels I've ever tasted. Some of her recipes do take some effort and are probably suited to more advanced cooks. That might put some people off, but there are simple dishes too, so I think there is something for everyone.

With regards to the complaints about the book - there are beautiful pictures in the book. There aren't shots of every completed dish, but I'm not the type to criticize a book due to a lack of pictures. It's actually a pet peeve of mine when people give bad reviews on here due to a lack of pictures. They're nice and can be helpful, but I'm much more concerned with good recipes, food history and an intesting read. This book is very special and can really educate about eating good, fresh food, the region of Calabria and about food culture in Italy. I can't recommend it enough! Try the limoncello! We gave it out for Christmas last year and it was a big hit!
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on December 2, 2011
Born in Calabria and watched my mother cook these very recipes as a child there. This is the first time I came across a book that mirrors the cuisine of Calabria and Southern Italy. When I received this book I got so excited. I quickly called my sister to tell her all about the book. She wants one. I love the titles written in the dialect I know and love. This is truly the very best present to myself. I am sending a copy to my sister and my son who is a great cook. "Mia Calabria" is nostalgic and photos are so exacting! My special thanks to the author and others involved who captured the essence as well as the culinary delights of Mia Bella Calabria...Molto Grazie!
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on November 6, 2012
I lost my father a couple years ago. He loved to cook. I really wish that I had gotten more interested before his passing, but I never saw the point with so much good food being made. I'm also married to a Thai woman who is a fabulous cook, and doesn't want to share the kitchen whatsoever. Still I've wanted to share Italian cooking with my Thai family, and to be honest even with myself. I've had years of eating Thai food daily. The Italian staples of my youth just weren't spicy enough for my family. "My Calabria" was recommend to me over a conversation on making homemade Fusilli. I found a lot more than Fusilli. I found a new love of Italian food. What a find! My father would have loved this cookbook. I sat down and read it cover to cover. Something I'd imagine he would have done too! I enjoyed every moment of it, and would recommend it to anyone. It was truly a great discovery. - Marcello Antonio Belloli
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on January 10, 2011
I absolutely love this book! The recipes are wonderful and the narration of the traditions and customs of the Calabrese way of preparing them have made an impression in my mind of how much love goes into their preparation. My parents were from a small town in Calabria named Roccabernarda. I have been privileged to travel to Rocca 3 times and meet my aunt, although she has since passed away, and my numerous cousins. I have been privileged to assist in the preparation of taralli; making the dough, forming the rings and boiling them and then baking them in the forno. These recipes bring memories of my trips but also tell in detail the reasons for preparing a certain recipe. I cannot give Rosetta Costantino and Janet Fletcher enough compliments on the way this cookbook is written and the fabulous recipes that are in the book. Anyone who purchases this book is in for a treat with the illustrations, narration, and recipes! Grazie mille!
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on November 4, 2010
You will learn wonderful recipes from Calabria, and you will also learn a lot about the people of Calabria, through her wonderful stories and introductions to topics.
She has taken the real Calabrese recipes and translated them into terms that we can measure and deal with in the US. My favorite cookbook now!
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