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Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking Hardcover – October 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609609440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609609446
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Italy, a country half the size of Texas, is composed of 20 regions, each with its own distinctly marvelous food. In Rustico, author Micol Negrin offers 10 recipes from each region--from the Alpine Val d'Aosta to the southernmost islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Other cookbooks serve up Italian regional dishes, but few American ones, if any, provide such a sweeping tour of authentic fare. Readers will be captivated instantly by dishes such as Lombardy's Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Rosemary Butter; Emilia-Romagna's Veal Roast Stuffed with Spinach, Pancetta, and Frittata; and Latium's Pike in Velvety Egg-Lemon Sauce, among many others--appetite-whetting food that cries out to be made. The key to Negrin's success is that she has chosen her recipes beautifully, and has presented them accessibly, illuminating relevant techniques and ingredients throughout (Negrin encourages cooks to find the real stuff, but also offers sage substitution advice). She also provides fascinating cultural illustration (for example, cheese production and meat curing throughout Italy are complementary activities, as the former means excess whey which, combined with bran and corn, becomes perfect porcine nourishment).

The rustic dishes range from antipasti to dolce, and include more familiar "specialties" such as Tuscany's Summer Bread and Tomato Salad and Milan's Saffron Risotto, and the excitingly unexplored, such as Molise's Hand-Cut Pasta Squares in Asparagus Cream and Apulia's Orecchiette with Wilted Arugula and Tomatoes. Baked goods are particularly irresistible and include Basilicata's Smoked Bread with Sweet Onion, Tomato and Basil, and herb-showered Griddle Bread from Romagna. Sweet lovers will delight in the likes of Calabria's Chocolate Covered Roasted Figs and Mint-and-Lemon-Laced Cheese Pillows in Warm Chestnut Honey from Sardinia, among other simple desserts. With a section of basic recipes, a fine ingredient glossary, and photos throughout, the book is a true tour de force. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

As the former editor of the Magazine of La Cucina Italiana and Italian Cooking & Living, Negrin could have churned out any number of recipes for well-known classic dishes from Italy's 20 regions and left it at that. But Negrin set herself a larger challenge and succeeded admirably. She has bypassed the more familiar regional specialties to focus on lesser-known gems and has made an effort to eschew frou-frou cooking for home-style dishes. In doing so, she points up yet again why Italian cuisine is one of the world's best it offers a seemingly unending supply of surprising, fresh and delicious traditional dishes. Take a region such as Tuscany, which has been trampled by millions of tourists and has been the subject of so many cookbooks. There, Negrin finds Deep-Fried Sage Leaves, which sandwich bits of anchovy, Chestnut Flour Polenta with Sausage and Scallions, and Braised Squid with Chili, Greens, and Tomatoes. So often in regional Italian books, less glamorous regions are paired with overpowering neighbors, so that it is rare to read about the minuscule region of Molise (about a third the size of Rhode Island), but Negrin has taken the time to tease out the differences and has discovered thrifty specialties such as Hand-Cut Pasta Squares in Asparagus Cream with homemade pasta that finishes cooking in an asparagus puree. Negrin has also avoided the trap of focusing too much on Italy's deservedly famous first courses and offers in abundance antipasti (Spicy Robiola Cheese and Onion Spread from Piedmont), breads (Cheese-Stuffed Focaccia from Recco in Liguria), second courses (the Aeolian Islands' Herb-Stuffed Tuna Bundles from Sicily) and desserts (Nut-and-Fruit "Snake" of the Capuchin Nuns from Umbria). Recipes are lucid and easy to follow, and chapter introductions stylishly and accurately convey a sense of place, while sidebars offer bits of folklore. (Sept.) Forecasts: This is a truly outstanding take original enough to revive what sometimes feels like a tired subject. With this comprehensive volume her first Negrin stands poised to become an Italian expert on the level of Faith Willinger or even Marcella Hazan. Expect robust sales.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rustico is one of the few cookbooks I have actually sat down with a cup of coffee and read pretty much cover to cover. I felt as though Ms. Negrin was sitting across the table from me narrating a story. She has the unique talent of personable writing that comes across in her anecdotes relating to every region she visited. I trust her extensive knowlege of regional cooking, and feel transported from place to place as the book tells the tales of so many aspects of cooking and living in such different areas of Italy.
From the delicious braised venison with creamy grappa sauce of Val d'Aosta, to the beet-filled ravioli with poppy seeds of the Veneto, to the mint and lemon laced cheese pillows in chestnut honey of Sardinia, this book hands us traditional recipes only someone with uneditied access to kitchens in the homes of Italians of every region could gather.
The book's beautiful photography of both inspiring dishes as well as day to day living in Italy convey a sort of warmth and familiarity reminiscent of Ms. Negrin's writing.
I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to discover the legacy of regional Italian cooking.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
`Rustico' by Italian food journalist Micol Negrin is a better than average book of regional Italian recipes in a world filled with good books on regional Italian recipes. The book's subtitle specifies that the book concentrates on `Country' cooking. And, although the book is very nicely done by region, it has no pretensions to being a scholarly work such as Waverley Root's `The Foods of Italy' or even a journalistic coverage of the subject as in Claudia Roden's very worthy `The Food of Italy'. In fact, the absence of pretension adds to the pleasant satisfaction one gets in reading the book, as it is not without merit as an introduction to the culinary world of Italy.

In my mind, the book is immediately superior to Susan Herrmann Loomis' very good book `Italian Farmhouse Cookbook' in that it does deal with recipes by region with an introduction that explains the geographical, historical, and climactic reasons for the prevailing cuisine in each region. Rome (Latium), for example, is all about sheep (as the city was founded by a tribe of nomadic sheepherders) and pigs (since from the time of the Roman Empire, the city of Rome was the center of hog butchering for the region. Similarly, Genoa and its region, Liguria, is shown to have a cuisine which is very similar to southern Italy due to the role of Genoa as a major medieval port and source of imported foods.

In addition to recipes and culinary history, the book gives an excellent overview of the wines and cheeses of each region. The coverage of cheeses is especially interesting to someone who knows a lot more about cheeses and the differences between cows and sheep than he does about grapes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Iserloh on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Micol Negrin's wonderful new creation "Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking" has two qualities that set it apart from other cookbooks that I've used. The first and most important is the way recipes are showcased. The recipes are so well written and focused that any cook from novice to chef can appreciate the way ingredients come together in each dish. Some of the recipes are basic favorites while others are unusual, tempting, and inventive. The added cultural notes, cooking tips, and gorgeous photography really shows the cultural importance and deep connect to food that the author has experienced in her travels.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Having followed Negrin's work for years, this book comes as no surprise: she is definitely the most knowledgeable author on Italian cuisine today! As usual, her writing is captivating, yet packed with content. "Rustico" is a comprehensive source of information about Italy and its regions, cooking tips, and fascinating tidbits on ingredients. Negrin's recipes are wonderfully simple to follow, bringing out the best in Italian cuisine - simplicity, regionality, and exquisite flavors. This book is a true gem!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tmp on October 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my new favorite Italian cookbooks. It's full of interesting dishes that you normally don't see. Her descriptions and photos are incredibly enjoyable as well. I look forward to more of her work. Brava!
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