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Posted November 8, 2010
Authentic, comprehensive, and simply gorgeous
As some background, I am an American of Calabrian heritage who has been living in my ancestors' village in Calabria since 2003; I received this book for review on my blog, Bleeding Espresso. *
Rosetta Costantino was born in Calabria and moved to America with her family at age 14. Although they left behind much of what was familiar to them, the Costantino family never lost their culinary traditions -- and now Rosetta shares them with us in My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South.
When paging through My Calabria, you feel like an honorary member of the family at the table as you learn about how Rosetta's father recreated their Calabrian garden in Oakland, California; how various members of the family make the same dish; and also the 11 ingredients every Calabrian pantry should have on hand.
Rosetta also shares information about the historical and cultural influences on Calabrian cuisine and lifestyle, so aside from being a wonderful collection of recipes (150) that includes appetizers through dessert, My Calabria is simply a wonderful resource book on the region -- you're getting so much more than a cookbook here.
The recipes themselves are authentic as they come and easy to follow -- one of the best things about Calabrian cooking is that it's user-friendly as it uses so few ingredients -- and the book is just gorgeous. There are plenty of full-page and other sized color photos throughout, not only of recipes but also of various sights from around Calabria.
From a personal standpoint as someone who has been making Calabrian food ever since I could cook -- first from my grandmother's recipes and now also from my mother-in-law's -- I give this book five very full espresso cups out of five. Rosetta is a wonderful tour guide through this region's food, history, and culture, and I highly recommend My Calabria for anyone who is interested in Calabria, southern Italy, or southern Italian cuisine.
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Posted November 30, 2010
ALMOST AS GOOD AS A VISIT TO THAT STORIED REGION
Italian food lovers will rejoice, those who yearn for the flavors of Calabria will be ecstatic with MY CALABRIA, the first cookbook devoted entirely to the distinctive cuisine of that unique rather remote region. As author Costantino notes in her Introduction, "At the southern tip of the peninsula lies an Italy that few people know: a land of fragrant citron and bergamot orchards, ancient olive groves and terraced vineyards; a place of persistent tradition and ritual, where the annual swordfish catch and hot pepper harvest are celebrated with elaborate festivals, and where women still roll pasta dough around knitting needles."
Yes, this is the area that popular cooking teacher Costantino knows and loves; it is where she was born and raised, nourished with homegrown, homemade food. Her knowledge of and affection for Calabria is evident on every one of this book's 416 pages and in every gorgeous full color photograph.
Beginning with Antipasti and Pasta we're treated to a cornucopia of hearty dishes under the headings of Soup, Rice, Polenta; Bread, Cheese, Eggs; Seafood; Meat; Vegetables; and Desserts. Each recipe mirrors the Calabrian's need to create nourishing and delicious food from what they grew or caught. The Desserts, many of which are a part of religious celebrations, are especially appealing.
While MY CALABRIA would stand alone as an outstanding cookbook it is so much more - it is a delightful armchair tour of the region (one we've enjoyed over and over again), a listing of places to stay and eat, and a comprehensive ingredient resource guide. Costantino finds her Peperoni Cruschi and Pecorino di Toscano at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michiga. We followed her lead and have thoroughly enjoyed the Peperoni Cruschi, made from the peppers in which the Calabrians take such pride, and the Pecorino di Toscano, which we grated to garnish our pasta.
MY CALABRIA is both a celebration of rustic family cooking and a tribute to the traditional ways of preparing food - enjoy!
- Gail Cooke
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Posted January 2, 2011
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