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The Mafia Cookbook Hardcover – November 14, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph "Joe Dogs" Iannuzzi is the author of Joe Dogs: The Life and Crimes of a Mobster, The Mafia Cookbook, and The Mafia Cookbook: Revised and Expanded.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

I like to cook. I've always liked to cook. That is, as long as I didn't have to cook, I liked it. It was when I was made to cook that I hated it, because if I didn't do it they'd either fire me or, later, fire at me.

I learned the hard way. How to cook, that is. When I was a kid my stepfather kicked me out of the house. He was an Irish bastard. So I had to learn quick. You follow me? I think I was thirty-eight or thirty-nine years old when that Irish __ told me to cop a walk. Just kidding. I was fifteen years old. So I bounced around the pool halls until I was old enough to join the army. I was a GFU (General Flake-Up), so I was constantly on KP. The mess sergeant went out of his way to show me different recipes to cook and bake. Not because he was such a nice and generous guy. Because he was a fat, lazy SOB who wanted me to learn so he could laze around on his fat ass all day.

After the army I got married and divorced and married and divorced and, in the early fifties, somehow found myself in Cleveland, Ohio. I needed a job, so I applied for work in one of the classiest restaurants in Cleveland. The chef who interviewed me laughed like hell when I told him my references and experiences. "Joey," the chef said, "if you promise me to forget everything you've learned about cooking I'll give you a job." Voilà! I was in. The kitchen. As a saucier.

I learned how to make soups and sauces, and I experimented cooking with brandies and different wines. After six months I figured I had the experience to cook anywhere, even the Big Apple, my hometown. So I stole another car and drove back to New York. (I couldn't very well drive the stolen car that had taken me to Ohio back to New York.) Back in New York: another marriage, another divorce. Oh-for-three.

Anyway, I worked in different diners and restaurants around New York, cooking food and making book. Through my bookmaking partners I got an application to join a very exclusive club: the Mothers And Fathers Italian Association -- MAFIA, for short. Normally you needed a college degree to be accepted, as there were some very intelligent guys in this club. Some could almost read and write. But they let me slide into their club because of my cooking. They said they would "learn" me the rules and regulations as time went on.

Now, mobsters love to eat. They eat while planning crimes and they eat after committing crimes, and when there are no crimes, they eat while waiting for them to happen. And mobsters are very picky. They know what they like, and when they like it they eat all of it. And then more. Look at the stomachs on these guys the next time television shows one of them being escorted into court in handcuffs. These are some very serious eaters.

Which is why some of these recipes call for such heavy sauces. Remember the crowd I was feeding -- any meal may be their last, so it better be a good one. Crime may not pay, but it sure gives you a hell of an appetite.

So don't be scared off by the butter and cream. Just serve the richer sauces on the side instead of dumping them on top of the food.

My cooking for my mentor, my rabbi, my compare, Tommy Agro, came in very handy, as "T.A." was constantly on the lam. Tommy A. and his crew were forever traveling to different apartments in different states to lay low, and we'd always leave in a rush and I wouldn't even get to pack up my pots and pans and knives. "Leave them, Joey" was T.A.'s familiar refrain. "We'll buy new ones." Despite these culinary hardships, lamming it was a good experience. I was perfecting my craft.

The members of my new club ate a lot of veal and an awful lot of pasta. But that didn't stop me from experimenting with dishes. I'd never tell the crew what I was cooking if it wasn't a recipe from the old country. They wouldn't have eaten it (and they might have shot me). But once they were licking their chops, I'd let them in on the fact that they were wolfing down Mandarin Pork Roast, or Steak au Poivre, and I never received a complaint.

I cooked for the club -- among other jobs -- for about ten years. Then I had a terrible accident. I kept walking into this baseball bat and this iron pipe. Some of my pals were trying to see if my head was harder than those two instruments. It was, just barely. But because of this experience I was enticed to join another club on a sort of double-secret probation. This club was called the Full-Blooded Italians, or FBI, for short. The guys in my new club asked me to spy on the guys in my old club who had tried to kill me. I had no problem with that. Revenge, like my Cicoria Insalata, is best eaten cold.

When it came to food, the members of my new club were no different from the members of my old club. They all ate like they were going to the chair. You don't have to eat that way with the recipes in this book. You just have to enjoy them. Because they've been tested on the worst of the worst and the best of the best. And they've all passed with flying colors.

Copyright © 1993, 2001 by Joseph Iannuzzi
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Rev Exp edition (November 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743226275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743226271
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By wolfmanbil@aol.com on May 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was written from the heart,and as every Italian knows, the way to the heart is through the stomach. Mr.Ianuzzi combination of true-life exploits and culinary mastery produce a cultural expose' that helps define a way of life that few of us will ever experience. WHAT-EVER ! The "CAPONARA" is to die for and the Marinara Sauce should be illegal! In other words, this book is a must for every kitchen! A compliment cookbook to Joe Dogg"s is Dom Deluiese's: "Eat this , it'll make you feel better"
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Chicken Cacciatore, Shrimp Scampi Gambino-style and Manicotti Marinara are just a few of the traditional Italian dishes from "Joe Dogs" Iannuzzi's Mafia Cookbook that will make you feel like a made man. With a collection of anecdotes of Joe Dogs' life with the mob, this book isa good read even if you don't cook. If you do, most of the dishes feature minimal preparation time and do not call for complex ingredients requiring pre-preparation. Overall, the book would compliment most cooking libraries and work especially well for the novice Italian chef
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By words on December 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Don't mistake this for a novelty item. The recipes in this book are 100% legit. I've worked from a lot of cookbooks, and this one is my favorite. The scampi and the stuffed shells alone are easily worth the price of the book. And if you like Iannuzzi's stories, you might want to check out his biography, as well. It's an entertaining read.
Who'd have thought the mob ate like this?? Check this one out; you won't be disappointed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mariea stella on August 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't wait to get this book! When it arrived,I read it within an hour and decided on which recipes I was going to make. Being an Italian-American and having a father that taught me how to cook(God Rest His Soul), I found a lot of Joey Dogs recipes similar to the way my family cooks now. The Orrichetti with peas and proscuitto is to die for. No pun intended! HAHA There is nothing pretencious about this cooking, just good Italian food and of course, the stories are a riot. Its good food with a sad sense of humor. Try it, you'll like it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Gochenour on May 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is simply amazing. I was just developing a taste for cooking when this book was purchased for me, and I originally thought it was just supposed to be funny - which it is, certainly. Each recipe is followed or preceded by an interesting story that relates, somehow, to the delicious dish. I realized, though, that the dishes were good enough that even a novice like me could make delicious, Italian-American meals.
While the recipes are not authentically Italian and may call for some non-traditional but readily-available ingredients, do not let this turn you off from the book. The recipes all turn out exactly as described, and yes - they are almost all very fattening and very, very tasty. Even the side dish recommendations are good.
Not all the dishes are specifically Italian - cheesecake, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Lobster Newburg are all particularly good, non-traditional recipes. The instructions are clear and easy to follow for every item, and there are enough recipes in here to last quite some time. I highly recommend this book; I have seen many cookbooks since I was first introduced to cooking, and this is still one of my favorites.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jon Kortebein on May 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I saw the title of this cookbook I couldn't resist buying it if only for the novelty of the thing. I imagine many of you reading this have the same reaction. The little stories with each recipe would have fit right in as scenes for "Goodfellas", but with one exception, the recipes are fairly standard Italian-American fare. The lone exception is the Ricotta-Rice Pudding which I find absolutely fabulous. I didn't know so much sugar could fit into one dessert! It's delicious!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John C. Martine on November 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
You really can't compare a cookbook with mob stories to much.... but it's a lot of fun. I especially reccomend the stuffed rice pudding recepie and the northern style chicken vesuvio.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chris B on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The stories are great. The food is great. But unless you want an early cardiac arrest don't eat like this regularly. Joe was a saucier early in his career, so all his recipes are heavy on the sauce. For instance, he calls for several sticks of butter plus a few cups of cream for 2 pounds of shrimp scampi. Even he jokes about this several times in the book. of course, you can always lighten them somewhat on your own.
I'd say get this book for the stories more than for the recipes. (I am biased being half Sicilian). It makes a great gift.
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