Top positive review
77 people found this helpful
A really lovely, useful, and invigorating book.....
on March 17, 2012
I've just finished reading, for the first time, my copy of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" (which became available yesterday). I'll be going back to it, of course, later in the day.....but my first thought is "Oh, I'll be giving this to so many friends" .
"The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" is just a lovely, really generously-spirited book. I was immediately reminded of another most-favorite book of mine, Robert Arbor's "Joie de Vivre". Both his and Mayes's books gently (unlike Signora Marcella Hazan's markedly strict skoolmarming) suggest/remind the reader that you don't have to actually be Italian or French, or own a villa or a chateau (or have more-time-on-your-hands-than-God-does) in order to ENJOY cooking and entertaining in a way that eventually might become second-nature to you. Both books remind me of Julia Child's superb (and very useful) "The Way to Cook".
All three books make a basic, quite practical point: Stop turning yourself into some harried, anxiety-filled kitchen-drudge, as though you were opening a restaurant or auditioning for your own Food Network show...when you're supposed to be enjoying your friends, family, and the actual cooking/eating.....and keep it (the food, table-settings, "dinner party etiquette", etcetera) refreshingly simple. The Mayes, Arbor, and Child have all obviously hit the right note....particularly during these days when (as I've noticed all too frequently) folks set themselves up for anxiety/"failure" by acting as though they have to compete with restaurants and whatever-they've seen in magazines. It's good (particularly since no one among my friends or in my family is in the least a "professional" cook) to have found a third book that emphasizes the self-defeating futility of approaching cooking&entertaining as though they were a competitive sport.
In short?.... "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" very clearly suggests how folks could be having a lot more fun both in the kitchen and at the table. I'll be happily giving away copies of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" to a number of family members and friends (I've already made my list for next Christmas and various birthdays).
Rather obviously, "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" isn't an exhaustive ( which too often translates into "exhausting" for most people), encyclopedic compendium of Italian cuisine. Nor does it in the least pretend to be such (which is a good thing, in my own book, so to speak).
Thanks to the Mayes for their obviously sincere and genuinely joyful work. I don't, as a very general rule and over the past twenty years, write gushing reviews....but this book (including the photography and layout) hits all the right notes. I expect that many people will get a lot of pleasure and inspiration from it.