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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another exquisite culinary journey through Italy!, November 28, 2009
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This review is from: Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes (Hardcover)
Once again, without any hesitation, this is a most fabulous cookbook/tour guide/education of the Italian experience through the most capable palate of Lidia and her daughter, Tanya. They are becoming synonomous with each other as this is another collaboration of love from this most lovely mother-daughter team of experts.

For anyone who knows of Lidia, she does not just give you recipes and photos; you can get those from any Italian cookbook, and there nothing wrong in that. But I truly feel that her purpose in all her books and endeavors is to appreciate the Italian history and culture hence her books are three-fold: you are given a geographical and culinary education along with the historical education so that you will be able to appreciate how, why, and where the recipes have been given.

So in essence, you are educated on the past history and influence that brought certain dishes to that region and how the geographical region lent itself to encourage certain meals and traditions due to the hard work and joy of the people who lived there. It is through the collaboration of Lidia and her lovely daughter Tanya, that we are given not just the standard information and recipes but instead, the food history, the rich culture, and the appreciation for what you are preparing so that you are not just cooking; you are creating the generations of family joy and culinary history that was passed on from parents to children and to which we need to cling to especially today.

In this particular book, her dedication is to her father, Vittorio. Her childhood and coming of age in this country leaves you with the sincere appreoiation of Lidia's need for acknowledging all who helped to shape and influence her ideology and vocation to this culinary artform. Her parents very humble beginnings started in the former Yugoslavia and have brought her to New York today.

The book is a heavy, well-printed and sectioned gift of love with its text printed on high-quality paper and with exquisite photographs of the Italian regions that she presents to us through her recipes. There is a particular photograph of a shepherd and his flock that is amazing; it will remind you of a Renaissance painting. I felt that her Acknowledgment page was just as wonderful to read as the rest of the book in that she has many gifted and loved people in her life whom she revolves her life, most notably her family as well as all the talented people whom she met and worked with to produce this latest offering.

There are 175 recipes selected within the 12 regions of Italy which are:
Trentino-Alto Adige
Lombardy
Valee D'Acosta
Liguria
Emilia-Romagna
Le Marche
Umbria
Abruzzo
Molise
Basilicata
Calabria
Sardinia

Each section gives you her history with that region whether personal or professional. Each recipe has a short introduction of sorts along with hints and suggestions in both preparing and serving the dishes. Throughout the chapters are wonderful photographs of the meals and people and countryside that the recipes come from; I could not imagine a more enjoyable journey in making this book albeit the hard work and energy it took in legistics, transportation, compilation of information, etc. At the end of each chapter is the wonderful listing of places and sites to see particular to that region that you would not want to miss should you be blessed enough to be able to travel to this glorious country. A small legendary map of sorts is posted at the start of each region with that region being highlighted so as to know from which area you are taking the recipes.

I particularly appreciated the actual ingredients of the recipes highlighted in red; I can't seem to quite put my finger on why that seemed to make the reading and preparation easier but it did.

The recipes themselves are full of the foods that are both expected and indigenous to Italy such as pastas, breads, wines, seafood, desserts, etc as well as others that some may not know as part of the Italian culture. There are even vegetarian recipes to choose from if you, or someone within your circle, prefer to stay away from meats, though many of the pastas and soups will fare well with vegetarians also. For those recipes which require standard preparations such as sauces and stocks, there is a short section at the end of the book that one can reference to in a quicker mode. Her sources for many of the ingredients are listed as well are sources for specific items that you might not find within your area. She also broke down the dishes by course so as to help section them for easier reference.

And last, but certainly not the least, is a listing of what can be found on her accompnaying series that began this month on local PBS stations. Each region and what she will be cooking on each episode is listed along with corresponding page number so that you could read along while watching her show.

You will truly enjoy this book for many reasons, therefore you will be most pleased. Peace.
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