The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken

As any Italian-American worth his or her ravioli recipe knows: food and family go together like . . . life itself. Laura Schenone, a James Beard Award-winning food writer, here explores the vital intersection of pasta and parenthood in her search for her great-grandmother’s recipe for ethereal ravioli, a dreamy combination of delicious stuffing with gossamer-like dough. A deracinated suburban mom, Schenone is no ethnic cheerleader; she’s a clear-eyed student of the culinary arts who discovers in her past a legacy of family turmoil along with lots of good eats. She traces the elusive recipe through a few generations of her rambunctious Italian ancestors, most of whom lived in Hoboken, New Jersey. But she encounters a few snags along the way: for example, her great aunt’s recipe includes oddities such as cream cheese. Luckily, Schenone’s travels take her to the family’s point of departure in Italy: Genoa, the home of magnificent ravioli-making and, unsurprisingly, the best place to learn the ins and outs of Ligurian cuisine. What she discovers is that there is no single standard for great Genoese cooking, and her great-grandmother’s odd recipe may in fact reflect the changes that came with migration. Always inviting, Schenone’s prose is as light as the dough she keeps trying to perfect. And the appended recipes will help satisfy appetites stimulated by her toothsome narrative.