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True Tuscan: Flavors and Memories from the Countryside of Tuscany Hardcover – September 6, 2005

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From Publishers Weekly

Casella, chef and owner of the Manhattan restaurant Beppe, admits up front that he has included dishes from other regions of Italy besides Tuscany in his cookbook, such as Sicily. His logic? "[P]utting my spin on it makes it Tuscan for me, because I'm Tuscan." That faulty reasoning is made even more glaring by Casella's complaint that the adjective Tuscan has been bastardized by its application to "kitchen design, olive oil, even classical music." That said, Casella's food—wherever it comes from—is quite delicious, and consists mainly of terrific rustic choices, like Potato and Egg Frittata, with its chunks of pancetta; and Tuscan Fried Chicken served with fried herbs. Casella writes like a restaurant chef, for better and for worse. On one hand, he generously shares recipes for some of the highlights on Beppe's menu, such as homemade pinci pasta in walnut and anchovy sauce, and Tuscan spareribs. On the other hand, he blithely calls for hard-to-find ingredients like pork liver, and while his Basic Pasta Dough recipe yields 1 3/4 pounds of dough, the three ravioli recipes that follow each call for 1 1/2 pounds of dough, with no suggestions as to what to do with the extra.
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About the Author

Cesare Casella is the chef and owner of Beppe and Maremma, celebrated Manhattan restaurants that specialize in Tuscan cuisine. The author of Diary of a Tuscan Chef and Italian Cooking for Dummies, he has been featured in print in Gourmet, Food and Wine, and the New York Times. He has appeared on Tyler's Ultimate on the Food Network and Martha Stewart Living.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555559
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
`true tuscan' by restauranteur / chef Cesare Casella is another attempt at capturing the cuisine of Tuscany with the same depth and interest shown in the many excellent treatments of Lazio (Rome), Liguria (Genoa and the Riviera), Emilia-Romagna (Bologna and Parma), and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Trieste, San Daniele). Some of these regions such as Lazio have been the beneficiaries of several excellent treatments. For some reason, all the treatments of Tuscan cuisine in general have been too heavily oriented toward the travelogue or too self-serving to the business interests of the author. One notable exception is `The Tuscan Year' by Elizabeth Romer' which, however, is much more a personal memoir than a good survey of the region as a whole.

To be sure, good regional cookbooks come in at least three different flavors. Romer's work and Vincent Schiavelli's `Many Beautiful Things' (on Sicily) is the culinary memoir, Mario Batali's `Simple Italian Food' and Suzanne Dunaway's `Rome, At Home' are examples of personal interpretations of home cooking from a region, and Lynne Rosetto Kaspar's `The Splendid Table' and Fred Plotkin's `La Terra Fortunata' aim at giving us a fairly representative survey of a regions most distinctive dishes.

Cesare Casella's `true tuscan' falls somewhere between the personal treatment and the more scholarly study. But, the fact that it does not fit into an easy pigeonhole is definitely not a reason to consider it a poor book. It is, in fact, a very, very good book of Tuscan dishes. The means by which the author certifies this as a representation of Tuscan cuisine is by the simple fact that it is his cuisine, he is a professional chef, and he is Tuscan, at least originally.
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