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From the Publisher
By Florence Fabricant
It's partly an attractive guide to Italian ingredients and partly a collection of thumbnail biographies of the people who produce them. But most of all, Italian Food Artisans by Pamela Sheldon Johns provides behind-the-scenes descriptions with alluring photographs to show how more than a dozen traditional Italian food are made. The author also outlines the qualities that set those foods apart form their commonplace industrial versions.
She writes, for example, of a fourth-generation company in central Italy, Rustichella d'Abruzzo, which makes dry pasta with handcrafted bronze molds, resulting in pasta with a roughened texture that makes sauce cling invitingly to it. Unlike commercial pasta, which is usually dried at high temperatures for about 12 hours, this pasta is slowly air-dried for more than four days, which maintains the flavor of the wheat.
Handmade details and the time to do things right both of which are costly and avoided by big companies are lavished on many of the products described in the book, including deeply flavorful cured meats, fine balsamic vinegar, rustic caciocavallo cheese and fruity estate-bottled extra virgin olive oil.
In a chapter about fresh truffles, Johns explains not only the white ones, for which Italy is famous, but also the black variety, which is gathered in Umbria. She gives advice about using truffles and how to select truffle oils and pastes.
This useful book also lists salamis and cheeses by region and has a buying guide to food products in Italy and the United States.