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Beyond the Pasta; Recipes, Language and Life with an Italian Family [Hardcover]

Mark Donovan Leslie
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2010 0982102364 978-0982102367 1st
[NEW for 2014 ~ 10 BONUS recipes, including gluten-free dishes, are included in this newly updated hardcover edition. Same heartfelt, award-winning story; now with ten more reasons to bring your family to the table!] Several years ago, on a break between theatrical gigs in Alabama, Mark traveled to Italy and fell in love with the people, food and culture. Armed with just enough courage, minimal Italian language skills, and a certain proficiency in the kitchen, he enrolled in a full-immersion cooking and language program. He would travel south of Tuscany to Viterbo, Italy and live with an Italian family. His teachers were beyond his wildest dreams-he learned to cook from the grandmother, or Nonna, of the family, who prepared every meal in a bustling, busy household, as women in her family have done for generations. Her daughter, Alessandra, taught him the language with patience and precision. Besides culinary secrets and prepositions, they opened their lives to him, and made him a real part of their extensive family. Though the book contains authentic, delicious family recipes Nonna shared with Mark, Beyond the Pasta delves into food memoir subject matter not found in a typical cookbook. It was the day-to-day shopping with Nonna, exploring the countryside and le gelaterie, where he truly developed his language skills, and a new, more joyful and uniquely Italian way of looking at the world.


Editorial Reviews

Review

300+ pages of Italian food, daily stories & memories in Italy. Every day a new recipe, the interpretation behind it and a story that ties it all in harmony...Italy through its cuisine and culture: every page, a new emotion! --La Gazzetta Italiana

His book has amazing recipes, wrapped in his story of his adventures in Italy. It's a very cool presentation of recipes within a story that helps each recipe tell a story. It reaffirmed my own wishes and dreams.
--ericriveracooks.com

A fine brew of recipes, b&w photos, and colorful, anecdotal narrative. Keep this one in mind for Christmas gifts to travelers, epicures, and stay-at-homes who like to read about other people's adventures. --Julia Oliver, Alabama Writers' Forum

The kind of meals that you really find in Italian homes, prepared by someone's Nonna. What touched me most were the emotions in this book. Accessible recipes and a great story teller are a pretty unbeatable combination. --Fruttodellapassione.net

For those of us desk-side who long to learn about cultures and food ... I'm particularly fond of Beyond the Pasta: the journal-style writing is delightful and recipes basic and exceptional. --Anthony Dias Blue, "Blue Lifestyle Minute"

From the Back Cover

"Mark has captured the essence of the Italian people." -Biba Caggiano, TV chef, cookbook author, and Sacramento restaurateur.

"Alabama and Italy--what a delightful and delicious combination." -Fannie Flagg, Best-selling author and actress.

"Mark understands and so beautifully conveys the transcendent nature of true cooking, cooking that comes from the heart and feeds not just the body but the soul.  There is something universal about this that goes beyond culture, age, race, and gender--real food, real cooking, real sharing is something sacred and often under appreciated.  His writing is smart, sensitive and wittily observed.  Beyond the Pasta exemplifies how the act of cooking is intrinsically an act of sharing and affirmation, and has the potential to be an open expression of the heart." --Scott Peacock, chef and co-author with Edna Lewis of "The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks."

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gemelli Press LLC; 1st edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982102364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982102367
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
(56)
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting! March 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover
Could this have been the start of a plot for a feature film?

Read the following from the book's publicity material with a deep "Hollywood Trailer" voice: "Several years ago, on a break between theatrical gigs in Alabama, Mark traveled to Italy and fell in love with the people, food and culture. Armed with just enough courage, minimal Italian language skills and a certain proficiency in the kitchen, he enrolled in a full-immersion cooking and language program. He would travel to Viterbo, Italy and live with an Italian family. His teachers were beyond his wildest dreams: he learned to cook from the grandmother, or Nonna, of the family, who prepared every meal in a bustling, busy household, as women in her family have done for generations. Her daughter, Alessandra, taught him the language with patience and precision."

And so it continues… but it sets the scene well in any case. Here is a book that mixes the author's memories, a bit of a cultural travelogue and a lot of recipes. Whilst the book seems interesting and has potential, it felt a bit too much of a muchness, a bit of a book whose direction was lost in part. Not quite lost in translation. You need to focus on this book a lot more than perhaps should be necessary. Maybe the design, or lack thereof, played its part even though it shouldn't.

Cutting to the chase, if you drill down to the recollections of cookery lessons you stand to gain a fair bit of useful history, background information and techniques to help shape your own Italian cuisine skills. It is, however, not a traditional "teach yourself" type of book. The recipes that accompany the book are different and not necessarily mainstream or typical - and that is a good thing - and you really get a lot more context and understanding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recipes, stories and Italy - who could ask for more January 23, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love recipe books, but with all the online stuff I don't buy many these days unless they have good stories to go along with the recipes. This is a diary of the author's stay in Italy, and includes great authentic Italian recipes made by a real Italian nonne(grandma). The author is gay, so if you are offended by that, this is not the book for you. But the references to his lifestyle are minimal. I loved the "day in a life" feel of the diary, the descriptions and impressions of Italy from a tourist who stayed there long enough to really get a feel for the country, and the small bursts of Italian - learned the correct pronunciation for Bruschetta, which will irritate my friends no end as I correct them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely in LOVE with this book November 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Totally, completely, absolutely in LOVE with this book. Thank you so much, Marco, for bringing us all into the lives and home of this charming Italian family and showing us just how much we are alike and how much we are different. I'm cooking the recipes along with you! Some I knew how to make from my own Italian Nonna, other's are completely new to me. I'm so envious of your adventure. Thank you so much for sharing is such an intimate and personal way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and engaging. November 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Written in a style to embrace the reader into his world, this is a delightful book. By the end one almost feels like part of the family who took him in and taught him the language and the nuances of regional cuisine....author of a practical book about living in Baja. My Gold Coast---Baja: A Practical Guide
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Both Worlds February 1, 2011
Format:Hardcover
If you are like me, you are drawn to Italy for many reasons. The food, the history, the scenery, the language and the lifestyle are the highlights for me. Lately, I have been on a bit of a hunt to read every account of Americans in Italy that I can get my hands on. But, most of them are more like fairy tales than real life. Not everyone who falls in love with Italy can afford to or wants to move there, have an affair with a devastatingly attractive Italian and renovate an old farm house. But that seems to be what most of these books are about.

Beyond the Pasta is not that book. Instead, it is the combination of the most authentic Italian recipes you are likely to find with one of the sweetest, most relatable accounts of an American's time in Italy. Mark Leslie writes in a style which makes you feel like if you had lived this experience, you could have written it. When he shares his thoughts and reactions, you immediately think, "that sounds just like something I would do." Because of this form of storytelling, by the end of the book, your emotions are almost as invested as Mark's. About half way through the book, I started forcing myself to slow down because I wanted it to last longer. (Kind of like a good meal.) Anyone interested in Italy, food, or even how people from different cultures can grow together will love this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Beyond The Pasta" is Buonissima November 2, 2010
Format:Hardcover
"Beyond The Pasta" by Mark Leslie is for anyone who believes he or she knows almost everything about Italian cooking and then finds themselves mesmerized by the author. What is the quintessential aspect of this book is that Mark ventures beyond the rudiments of meal preparation and dives into the culture and nature of the Italians themselves.

To achieve this amazing insight into the legendary cuisine of Italy, Mark, a Chicagoan by birth who migrated to Alabama, subsequently immersed himself into his subject matter by actually living with an Italian family. It was there in Viterbo, Italy where he learned first-hand not only about cooking but about the intangible elements of Italian heart and soul that virtually permeate the preparation and presentation of Italian meals.

Besides acquiring an education in the art of Italian cooking, the reader, although not guaranteed to become a linguist, will be exposed to a variety of Italian words, phrases and terms and soon experiences a strong familiarity with the Italian language. Even the chapters are identified by "day and giorno" and provide a most interesting diary of Mark's stay in Italy and well as his personal selection of classic Italian recipes.

My overall verdict is "Beyond The Pasta" is Buonissima and should be a choice candidate for inclusion in any culinary collection, especially and most definitely in the Italian section.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought it for my girlfriend after our trip to Italy and she loved...
I personally didn't read it, I bought it for my girlfriend after our trip to Italy and she loved it!
Published 2 months ago by Zombie hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this so much I go back again and again ...
I enjoyed this so much I go back again and again to read chapters. It's like going home for that warm and cozy feeling that gives me peace. Bravo Mark. You hit the MARK!!!!
Published 8 months ago by SUSAN GRIMM
3.0 out of 5 stars The recipes are a nice addition to this book which offset some of the...
The element that kept my interest is that I now live in the area where this story was based. The recipes are a nice addition to this book which offset some of the issues of his... Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. Mac
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read
A delightful, and touching book sprinkled with recipes. I highly recommend it. I received a copy of Beyond the Pasta in exchange for an honest review.
Published 11 months ago by Cecilia S
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a fun read! At times I felt as if I ...
This was a fun read! At times I felt as if I were sitting in the car with Marco as he was driving to get groceries and drop off the recycling. Read more
Published 11 months ago by mckeever's mom
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable book that gives insight into Italian family ...
A very enjoyable book that gives insight into Italian family life. The cooking lessons and the life lessons were valuable.
Published 15 months ago by D. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I loved this book. Hated to see it end. I learned a lot about the Italian culture and enjoyed the recipes.
Published 16 months ago by Shirley Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read
I loved this book. It took me forever to read it because I studied every Italian phrase and drifted into memories of my trips to Italy. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written
Love the language, the recipes, and the story telling. Bellisimo e . I have already recommended this reading to my friends.
Published 17 months ago by Edward S Perazzo
5.0 out of 5 stars eating and learning Italian
WhT a great concept. I've heard of cooking schools, but nothing like this.
Will visit all these places upon my return to viterbo
Published 18 months ago by inspirational
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