Cooking with My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap

Overview

For the Trigianis, cooking has always been a family affair–and the kitchen was the bustling center of their home, where folks gathered around the table for good food, good conversation, and the occasional eruption. Example: Being thrown out of the kitchen because one’s Easter bread kneading technique isn’t up to par. As Adriana says: “When the Trigianis reach out and touch someone, we do it with food.” Like the recipes that have been handed down for generations from mother to daughter and grandmother to ...
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Cooking with My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap

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Overview

For the Trigianis, cooking has always been a family affair–and the kitchen was the bustling center of their home, where folks gathered around the table for good food, good conversation, and the occasional eruption. Example: Being thrown out of the kitchen because one’s Easter bread kneading technique isn’t up to par. As Adriana says: “When the Trigianis reach out and touch someone, we do it with food.” Like the recipes that have been handed down for generations from mother to daughter and grandmother to granddaughter, the family’s celebrations are also anchored to the life and laughter around the table. We learn how Grandmom Yolanda Trigiani sometimes wrote her recipes in code, or worked from memory, guarding her recipes carefully. And we meet Grandma Lucia Bonicelli, who never raised her voice and believed that when people fight at the dinner table, the food turns to poison in the body.

Adriana Trigiani’s voice springs to life from the first page of Cooking with My Sisters, a collection of beloved family recipes that the Trigianis have been enjoying for generations. But there’s much more here than just the food. Peppered with hilarious family anecdotes, poignant letters, and exquisite color photographs, Cooking with My Sisters draws us into the warm and witty world of the Trigiani clan. Each recipe has a story behind it, and each chapter has tips from different sisters, reflecting the unique personalities of the latest generation of Trigiani women.

Here are mainstay meals, featured in sections such as “The Big Life” and “The Big Wow,” which include the chapters “Pasta, or as We Called It, Maccheroni” and “Food We Hated as Kids but Love to Serve Now.” Accessible to any cook, the recipes range from Chicken and Polenta, Zizi Mary’s Rice Soup, and Gnocchi to favorite desserts like Grandmom’s Buttermilk Cake–and all the delectable dishes are geared toward bringing your family together.

Written with Adriana Trigiani’s trademark humor and verve, this wonderful book will appeal to anyone who values the bonds that food, community, and cultural tradition can provide.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Adriana Trigiani is the author of the bestselling Big Stone Gap novel trilogy, as well as a screenwriter and filmmaker. When not engaged in these artistic pursuits, Adriana loves to cook. Like many other Italian families, the Trigianis hoarded cooking secrets and culinary lure, sometimes quite literally: Grandmom Yolanda Trigiani secured her coded recipes in hiding places. In Cooking with My Sisters, Trigiani joins forces with her four sisters and their mother to share the secrets (and stories) of the family kitchen. The recipes range from polenta, pasta, and chicken to favorite desserts. Trgiani's gifts as a storyteller make this much more than an ordinary cookbook.
From the Publisher
Cooking with My Sisters is the best Italian cookbook ever written by women from the American south. Adriana Trigiani and her sisters had the genius to unite a Southern sensibility with Italian cooking, and the stories of the Trigiani family alone are worth the price of admission.”
–PAT CONROY

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
Trigiani, author of the Big Stone Gap trilogy, Queen of the Big Time (Forecasts, July 12) and other novels, offers a scrapbook of homey recipes and reminiscences. While it'll undoubtedly please her family, friends and biggest fans, readers outside that circle may tire of endless photographs of Trigiani family parties and tales of mothers who wanted their children to eat plenty of greens and grandmothers who were loath to share recipes. There are many parallels between the author's family and her fictional characters, and the anecdotes Trigiani shares sometimes resemble incidents from her books. Handwritten notes from Trigiani's grandmother ("Congratulations on your engagement.... the Prince of Wales wouldn't be good enough for my granddaughters") and memories of Trigiani's mother's "warm, inviting, creative" kitchen are sweet, but hardly compelling or unusual. Similarly, the recipes--contributed by Trigiani and her sisters--are for well-worn (if delicious) Italian classics: Gnocchi, Basic Tomato Sauce, Meatballs, Sausage and Peppers, Braciole, Trigiani Lasagne with Meat and Cheese, and Mom's Stuffed Peppers. Authentic, yes. Interesting? It depends. Beginning cooks stand to gain the most from this collection, but those already familiar with standard Italian-American fare won't find much of interest, making this a "for fans only" cookbook. Photos. Agent, William Morris. (On sale Oct. 5) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this pleasant memoir/cookbook, novelist Trigiani (Big Stone Gap) and her mother and sisters share childhood stories, memories of grandparents and parents, and family recipes. Their remembrances of past events, people, and favorite meals are sprinkled with humorous comments and cooking hints from one or another of the authors, adding to the casual, conversational tone. Food was central to Trigiani family life and a primary reason their Italian heritage was preserved through three generations in America. The recipes include pastas, main courses, desserts, and snacks; most are easy and straightforward perfect to pass from generation to generation. Unlike Maya Angelou's recent Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, this volume does not establish an elegant, introspective connection between pivotal life events and memorable dishes. However, Trigiani's readers will enjoy it, as will others looking for lighthearted fare. Suitable for larger public libraries. Andrea R. Dietze, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812974829
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/11/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 104,454
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 7.36 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani
ADRIANA TRIGIANI is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the bestselling novels Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, Lucia, Lucia, and The Queen of the Big Time, Trigiani has written the screenplay for the movie Big Stone Gap, which she will also direct. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

MARY TRIGIANI is a consultant and lecturer on issues driving authenticity in leadership.  An expert message crafter -- for business leaders just-crowned to well-seasoned -- Mary's own message emerges in the new book she has written with her sister, bestselling novelist Adriana Trigiani.  COOKING WITH MY SISTERS:  ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FAMILY RECIPES FROM BARI TO BIG STONE GAP, a memoir/cookbook, is a true story about the power of cooking to nourish and sustain the traditions of an Italian-American family aimed at leaving the world a better place. Mary shows how a visit back to unvarnished family experiences and values can help unearth one’s authentic voice -- something Mary believes is essential not only to effective communicating but to compelling leadership as well.  She lives in San Francisco.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

As her squadrons of fans already know, Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, a coal-mining town in southwest Virginia that became the setting for her first three novels. The Big Stone Gap books feature Southern storytelling with a twist: a heroine of Italian descent, like Trigiani, who attended St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, like Trigiani. But the series isn't autobiographical -- the narrator, Ave Maria Mulligan, is a generation older than Trigiani and, as the first book opens, has settled into small-town spinsterhood as the local pharmacist.

The author, by contrast, has lived most of her adult life in New York City. After graduating from college with a theater degree, she moved to the city and began writing and directing plays (her day jobs included cook, nanny, house cleaner and office temp). In 1988, she was tapped to write for the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and spent the following decade working in television and film. When she presented her friend and agent Suzanne Gluck with a screenplay about Big Stone Gap, Gluck suggested she turn it into a novel.

The result was an instant bestseller that won praise from fellow writers along with kudos from celebrities (Whoopi Goldberg is a fan). It was followed by Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon, which chronicle the further adventures of Ave Maria through marriage and motherhood. People magazine called them "Delightfully quirky... chock full of engaging, oddball characters and unexpected plot twists."

Critics sometimes reach for food imagery to describe Trigiani's books, which have been called "mouthwatering as fried chicken and biscuits" (USA Today) and "comforting as a mug of tea on a rainy Sunday" (The New York Times Book Review). Food and cooking play a big role in the lives of Trigiani's heroines and their families: Lucia, Lucia, about a seamstress in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and The Queen of the Big Time, set in an Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, both feature recipes from Trigiani's grandmothers. She and her sisters have even co-written a cookbook called, appropriately enough, Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Bari to Big Stone Gap. It's peppered with anecdotes, photos and family history. What it doesn't have: low-carb recipes. "An Italian girl can only go so long without pasta," Trigiani quipped in an interview on GoTriCities.com.

Her heroines are also ardent readers, so it comes as no surprise that book groups love Adriana Trigiani. And she loves them right back. She's chatted with scores of them on the phone, and her Web site includes photos of women gathered together in living rooms and restaurants across the country, waving Italian flags and copies of Lucia, Lucia.

Trigiani, a disciplined writer whose schedule for writing her first novel included stints from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning, is determined not to disappoint her fans. So far, she's produced a new novel each year since the publication of Big Stone Gap.

"I don't take any of it for granted, not for one second, because I know how hard this is to catch with your public," she said in an interview with The Independent. "I don't look at my public as a group; I look at them like individuals, so if a reader writes and says, 'I don't like this,' or, 'This bit stinks,' I take it to heart."

Good To Know

Some fascinating, funny outtakes from our interview with Trigiani:

"I appeared on the game show Kiddie Kollege on WCYB-TV in Bristol, Virginia, when I was in the third grade. I missed every question. It was humiliating."

"I have held the following jobs: office temp, ticket seller in movie theatre, cook in restaurant, nanny, and phone installer at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. In the writing world, I have been a playwright, television writer/producer, documentary writer/director, and now novelist."

"I love rhinestones, faux jewelry. I bought a pair of pearl studded clip on earrings from a blanket on the street when I first moved to New York for a dollar. They turned out to be a pair designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. Now, they are costume, but they are still Schiaps! Always shop in the street -- treasures aplenty."

"Dear readers, I like you. I am so grateful that you read and enjoy my books. I never forget that -- or you -- when I am working. I am also indebted to the booksellers who read the advanced reader's editions and write to me and say, "I'm gonna hand-sell this one." That always makes me jump for joy. I love the people at my publishing house. Smart. Funny, and I like it when they're slightly nervous because that means they care. The people I have met since I started writing books have been amazing on every level -- and why not? You're readers. And for someone to take reading seriously means that you are seeking knowledge. Yes, reading is fun, but it is also an indication of a serious-minded person who values imagination and ideas and, dare I say it, art. I never thought in a million years when I was growing up in Big Stone Gap that I would be writing this to you today. Books have always been sacred to me -- important, critical, fundamental -- and a celebration of language and words. And authors! When I was little, I didn't play Old Maid, I played authors. They had cards with the famous authors on them. Now, granted, they didn't look like movie stars, but I loved what they wrote and had to say. I can boil this all down to one thing: I love to tell stories -- and I love to hear them. I didn't think there was a job in the world where I would get to do both, and now thank God, I've found it."

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Read an Excerpt

My four sisters and I love to read and we love to entertain. This book shares the Trigiani family treasure that inspires both passions: the recipes that were handed down to us and the stories that have sustained and enriched us. Like many other women of our generation, we learned to cook by watching our mothers and our grandmothers who tapped the ancient roots of three Italian regions while adapting their recipes using American innovation and ingredients. Recipes and techniques were to be shared among us, but never outside the family-–until now. Cooking with My Sisters brings you into our family kitchen. Here are our recipes and our stories. Buon appetito!
–From the Introduction by Adriana Trigiani

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    Eat, Drink And Be Merry

    I'm a huge fan of Adriana's and so of course, I loved this book. I found the recipes for the Italian dishes similar to ones I've made over the years but every now and then I found a variation that I could adopt. The pictures of the 'finished products' were tantilizingly beautiful! The helpful hints are valuable especially for the novice cook and the anecdotes are amusing. As for the photos, I enjoyed 'meeting' the whole Trigiani family and felt the warmth emanating from the pages - not only from the oven but from the people depicted. To Italians food is love and 'Cooking With My Sisters' has a lotta' love to offer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2009

    Love this cookbook

    Adriana is just as good with cooking as she is as a novelist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2004

    Wonderful and heartwarming!

    I am a big fan of Adriana Trigiani's books and also worked a few years ago with sister Pia Trigiani, one of my favorite people. If you read cookbooks from cover to cover like a novel, as I do, you will LOVE this one. Thank you for sharing your wonderful family recipes as well as your family history and remembrances!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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