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The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family Paperback – October 17, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hand-rolled ravioli are ephemeral things, taking ages to prepare only to be devoured in minutes. And yet for Schenone (the James Beard Award–winning A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove) their taste encapsulates an entire domestic history and the promise of happiness, however fleeting. In this marvelous family memoir, which considers the immigrant experience from the vantage of food, Schenone, longing for an inner life where advertising cannot reach, sets off on an idealistic quest to reclaim the ravioli recipe that her Genovese great-grandmother brought with her at the turn of the last century to New Jersey, where the dish abruptly changed, breaking with tradition. In search of enlightenment, Schenone charms her way into the kitchens of ravioli-making elders in Liguria (whose recipes she shares in this book with admirable precision), then spends years trying to teach her hands the difficult art of stretching dough—an endeavor that tests her most cherished ideas of home and family and self. Her fierce honesty and relentless questioning (at what point is this an egotistical labor?), skillful handling and dismantling of family myth, refusal to romanticize Italy and historian's knack for sketching the big picture in a few broad strokes allows this poignant book to transcend the specificity of its subject matter. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

A culinary detective story, a family confessional, and a moving meditation on assimilation and authenticity. -- Star-Ledger, New Jersey

This is a feast for the mind and the heart, as well as the palate. -- Newsweek

This personal journey, woven together with delicious recipes framed by her family history, dazzles like the harbor of Portofino. -- Adriana Trigiani, author of the Big Stone Gap series
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393334236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393334234
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's rare in the food writing genre to find an accomplished literary writer who is also a smart, talented and creative cook, and that's what readers will find in Schenone's new memoir. As a former pastry chef, author of a food memoir and fellow writer, I was smitten with the book from the opening line which is both poetic and evocative. From there, it's a page turner. Schenone is an entirely sympathetic and engagingly curious and thoughtful narrator whose voice is graceful and compelling. I enjoyed her journey from overwhelmed mother of two trying in vain to duplicate her family's famous Christmas ravioli from a cryptic recipe, to intrepid traveler seeking out the origins of the dish, to her final transformation into someone with a deeper understanding of cooking, life, family and these precious handed-down recipes we all treasure but often find baffling and inconsistent with modern life. Her constant soul-searching is fascinating as she sets out on her quest to find the real, authentic ravioli recipe, as are her descriptions of the Italian cooks and their kitchens that she pursues to satisfy a genuine craving for answers; why did her ancestors use something as ordinary as cream cheese in an otherwise authentic recipe for ravioli? What was the original use for the exotic and fascinating old ravioli tool that hung in her childhood home? Is she an 'authentic" Italian, or only a confusing diluted mix of heritages without a strong identity? What can she do to get her children (described here beautifully, foibles and imaginary friends and all)to appreciate "real" food? I could not put this book down and I doubt anyone with a love of old recipes, family stories, quests for something bigger than ourselves, or a yen for a food memoir written with passion and integrity could either. It's on my list of the best books of the year.
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Format: Hardcover
A moving, heartwarming, exciting memoir in which I could find stories, discoveries, and experiences which made me feel as if parts of the book reflected my culture and roots from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea (Eastern Med). This book has the potential to become an international bestseller. It is not just "Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken" but it is "THE" Lost Ravioli Recipe --across cultures! Wholeheartedly recommended !!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love a mystery. And in her `The lost ravioli recipes of Hoboken' Schenone unravels a mystery through a personal journey to "uncover the truth" behind the treasured family recipe of her great-grandmother. I was hooked from the start intellectually and emotionally (yes, the book made me laugh and cry). I think the only other book I have read remotely like `Lost ravioli' is `How to Make an American Quilt', but I connected with `Lost ravioli' even more. Maybe it is my age (similar to the author's), but certainly the superb writing and many threads that come together in Schenone's latest book. One does not need to be a foodie, an Italian-American or a New Jerseyite to devour this book. One only needs to appreciate outstanding prose and a fascinating story. My husband and I read the book aloud to each other and it is our choice for Christmas gift book this year!
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Format: Hardcover
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken is a wonderful tale of the search for family origins. Laura Schenone was at a point where she wanted a recipe of her own -- not from a cookbook, the newspaper or a TV food expert -- nothing less than an authentic old family recipe. I recognized a kindred spirit, madly rolling ravioli instead of celebrating Christmas morning with her husband and children and then feeling unappreciated as her parents and sister flung the bags of handmade ravioli into the freezer and promptly forgot them. I devoured the chapters where she tested recipes (and recoiled with her upon learning her family's filling actually included raw meat and Philadelphia cream cheese), consulted old cookbooks in the New York Public Library, and compared techniques with her gastronomic mentor, Lou. I relished traveling with her to her ancestral homeland near Genoa where she learned traditional techniques and sampled the finest artisanal Italian foods. I loved that her quest to authenticate her great-grandmother's recipe brought her into contact with far flung distant relatives and gave her a chance to make ravioli with her family's ancestral rolling pin. The only parts of the story that seem to break the narrative flow were the long rehashings of Schenone family feuds and the rambling introspections on the author's troubled relationship with both her father and her youngest sister. Nonetheless, the overall story was an enjoyable look into both the history of ravioli in Hoboken, New Jersey and the way food and family are so closely intertwined.

The book concludes with recipes for ravioli, several fillings (including the cream cheese version) and related Italian specialties from the Ligurian region of Italy. Although the author clearly prefers traditional methods, there are detailed instructions for making pasta dough by hand as well as by mixer and for rolling it out by hand as well as with a pasta machine.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our book club assigned us this book. It was interesting as to how my sister and I read it from such different angles. I was absorbed in the writer's search for her family roots; my sister read it as an obssessive search for an original Italian recipe. The result was a good book discussion.
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