A Recipe for Disaster: Cooking Up a Big Italian Idea Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B072KHH77T
- Publisher : Drayton Park Publishing (June 24, 2017)
- Publication date : June 24, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 5180 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 289 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,804,223 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Agreeing to read and review A Recipe for Disaster: Cooking Up a Big Italian Idea was obviously a no-brainer for me. I expected that I would enjoy Stephen Phelps’ story about living and cooking in Italy, especially when he has a non-cooking partner. (My own partner has a limited repertoire of boxed pudding, soup from the deli, and pasta with pre-made sauce, and I still have to walk him through the latter.)
What I did not expect was to fall in love with the book so hard that I paid the $12 to buy the series from Amazon. What I did not expect was to spend page after page laughing, crying, and drooling over Stephen, Tam, and Lia, the process of making a tv show, the process of learning to cook, and the shared experience of living in such a surreal bubble in time.
Reading this book makes you want to get your grandmother’s recipe box and systematically work through every family favorite you’ve ever known, but it also makes you want to start a restaurant, make a tv show, and learn to cook a new-to-you kind of food, or speak a new-to-you language.
At the same time, makes you want to run far away from all those things because each one has its own frustrations.
Candid, funny, sometimes poignant, A Recipe for Disaster is one tasty piece of fiction.
Goes well with any of the food mentioned in the book with a glass of a good Italian table wine. Need not be fancy. (I really want to make the roasted tomatoes (with breadcrumbs, baked herbs and orange zest).)
I had no idea how much work went into producing even the simplest TV / video segment. Stephen as director (D), recounts the ups and downs (or should I say (the different degrees of how excessively hot it can get) of filming in different locations around the Italian countryside. His description of different Italian towns, country settings, local foods, lovable characters and the odd overprotective dog thrown in makes for a highly entertaining and educational read. I learned so much about Italian history and, well, at this point, just want to pack up and move there (hey, we have earthquakes here on Vancouver Island as well).
The author had me smiling and laughing at some of the unusual situations they found themselves in. His use of word pictures made me feel that I was right there watching it all. I haven't seen the video series yet but am keen to do so.
The recipes were very simple to prepare as Lia (a chef) is teaching Tam (who is learning to cook) how to cook traditional Italian dishes. The only drawback was that the recipes were written for a European audience (I would imagine). In North America we don't use the metric system for cooking (we use Imperial measurements such as cups and tablespoons) and these would have to be converted.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking, Italy and a good laugh!
Stephen Phelps has done his stint in the TV industry and it is time to try something new. Like living in Le Marche, Italy, for example. He and his partner, Tam, head out to this beautiful but lesser known area of the country. But it is an area of earthquakes and he shares how the reverberations from the 2016 devastating event in Amatrice could very much be felt in Sarnano – a beautiful small town constructed largely of pink, cotto tiles (and dating right back to the 13th century) – where he was living. A place where allotments have delightfully been created in an orto (footprint) of former houses. L’Aquila, destroyed in an earthquake several years ago, is only 55 miles away.
Sarnano is one of those hilltop villages, of which there are many dotted around Italy, beautiful, quaint and each so very unique. This particular town can boast a Museum of Hammers and no less than seven churches in the centro storico alone! He settles on a project to film and then chart in this book a cooking series, but it is so much more than a cooking series! As the project progresses, the author becomes clear that “Sarnano was definitely going to be a “character” in our films“. And indeed it seemed to.
The memoir of the filming process opens, each chapter labelled as a course of a lengthy and typical Italian meal. It is over a meal with Lia and Sergio, owners of the Piatto Ricco, that plans to make a TV series starring Lia and Stephen’s partner Tam come to fruition. However, located in the middle of nowhere, it is certainly going to be a challenge to source all the people and talent needed to make a series of programmes, both in the kitchen and choosing local ingredients. Notwithstanding that Lia can hardly speak English (but cooks like a demon) and Tam fails to make anything other than red or green gloop and can speak little Italian. The odds, surely, are stacked against this project? Indeed, a veritable recipe for disaster.
Six half hour episodes were agreed, and as their plans evolved, the series began to encompass regional Italian cooking, with a quick blast of Italian language primer, history lesson, oh, and whilst they are at it, a travelogue. Overall, quite a pot pourri of elements.
You will discover how the project panned out and hear about wonderful little details of the locality, for example, how lentils are a specialty in Castelluccio and Norcia; a bit of history about cobbles (sanpietrini); and that you should add the porchetta from Monterotti to your list of things to try. Even a side trip to Picciolo di Rame to sample some of the delicious food is a recommendation. A visit to the ancient Urbs Salvia? Not a problem, it’s just a 20 minute drive along the SS 77 of this fabulous area of Italy..
The narrative is punctuated with recipes, none overly convoluted because in this area of Italy it is the simplicity and mix of flavours that is valued. There is something for everyone, from Soft Chocolate Cake and Ice cream, to Grandma Giudi’s Cream Pudding, and from Sibillini Pasta (named after the Sibilllini Mountains) to Crostini with Ciabuscolo and to Stracchino (but the secret ingredient that “makes” the dish is just that, secret!); and finally the most complex dish in the book, Vincisgrassi….
This memoir is as much about life settling in to a foreign country and culture, as it is about making a series of episodes for TV. As the author says: I have come to realise that one of the joys of living in another country is the constant reminders of what you DON’T know about the language. Wise thoughts indeed!
It is a light, chatty – often self deprecating – and informative take on this part of Italy that will have the readers lusting after their next Italian trip. The filming process structures the narrative and is the raison d’être for the book, but in fact is perhaps less interesting than the observations of life and food. Extracts from the shooting scripts and images of personal notes and pictures of schedules are included, maybe overly so. The writing is like a stream of consciousness, giving the prose the feel of a series blogposts brought together, and a tightening of the narrative would give the book a more cohesive focus. The author butterflies over the filming, adds in a bit of history, shares the glorious scenery and comes back to the vagaries of making programmes to be televised; and it is his enthusiasm that comes through the words and keeps the reader engaged.
Top reviews from other countries
However, it is also a tragi-comedy about a couple of 30-somethings (alright – times two plus or minus) with TV backgrounds who have fallen in love with the area and its people. The comedy, deftly written, covers their exploits in trying to develop a TV series on less than a shoe string with the impact on their relationship and drawing in various friends. A lot of eggshells clearly suffered underfoot on the way.
The tragedy is the impact of a continuing swarm of devastating earthquakes that has altered the region significantly with limited government support in establishing a new “normality”. Their hope is this book will encourage outsiders to visit and so help restore some of the economy.