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Italy for the Gourmet Traveller

Italy for the Gourmet Traveller

5.0 1
by Fred Plotkin
In this indispensable epicure's companion, the renowned author of The Authentic Pasta Book celebrates the wonders of Italian regional cucina. From the Alps to Sicily, Plotkin visits 300 towns and cities that feature each region's best and most typical food and wine. 75 photos.


In this indispensable epicure's companion, the renowned author of The Authentic Pasta Book celebrates the wonders of Italian regional cucina. From the Alps to Sicily, Plotkin visits 300 towns and cities that feature each region's best and most typical food and wine. 75 photos.

Editorial Reviews

Simple Cook Newsletter
Readers who experienced the impact of Patricia Wells' The Food Lover's Guide to Paris when it first appeared in 1984 will remember that-as enormous a boon as it surely was to those who lived there or planned a visit to that city-what was really so wonderful about the book was the way it illuminated the place for those of us who inhabited it only in our imaginations. I mean nothing but praise when I say that Fred Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet Traveler immediately brought to mind that earlier encounter. And as I read through the book I began to feel that, in some ways at least, it was the superior of the two.
Certainly, in terms of scope, there has never been anything like it...for any country. Patricia Wells' subsequent The Food Lover's Guide to France isn't even in the competition, and Faith Willinger's misleadingly titled Eating In Italy (the book, in fact, is solely concerned with Northern Italy), although admirable enough, has nothing like the sheer mass of useful information that Plotkin has packed into this one. The more obscure the place, the more determined he is to visit it; the less inviting it is-Taranto [Sicily] is not, to put it mildly, a place that puts on its best face for the visitor. Some of the largest oil refineries and steel mills in Italy may be found here [and] most of the town is filled with demoralizingly similar apartment flats. Mangy dogs congregate outside the train station, and, as you walk through the centro storico, you will find it run-down but without the raffish animation of similar areas in Palermo, Napoli, or Genova. A chief port of the Italian navy, Taranto is full of randy young sailors, most of them with lots of energy and no way to expend it.... the more effort he makes to find something there worth visiting (in this instance, the Museo Nazionale, with its stupendous collection of Greek antiquities. Food, although his main concern, is far from his only one).
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler opens with some solid introductory chapters-the one on eating in Italy is alone worth the price of admission-and then devotes a chapter each to the country's regions. These start off with an overview of the region itself, a discussion of its notable foodstuffs, wines, cheeses, and preserved meat products, and a course-by-course delineation of typical local dishes. Plotkin then focuses on individual cities and towns, giving a short but succinct portrait of each (he has chosen twenty-one "classic towns" that receive particularly evocative treatment), followed by descriptive listings of the best eating places, food stores, bakeries, candy makers, wine merchants, coffee bars, outdoor and indoor public markets, and, in larger cities, bookstores, cooking schools, health food merchants, honey sellers, housewares and cooking equipment stores, and guided walks. These entries can be brief and to the point, but they can also fill an entire page, sometimes more.
This brings me to the aspect of Plotkin's writing that sets him in a category quite his own: his awareness of the world beyond his plate. He is an acute observer, willing to linger on a park bench or street corner and let everyday life unfold before him. And he shares what he absorbs with the easy conversational style of a gifted letter writer: Walk past the panificio, button store, shoe store, arms store (that caters to hunters), and you will discover a truck, so typical in Italy, that opens on one side. Called Rosticceria "Chi Magna Torna" (He Who Eats Returns), it always does a booming business selling roast chicken, guinea hen, duck, lamb, sausage, ribs, turkey, meatballs, and sparrows (popular here). This truck and its customers are a vivid sight that merits several minutes of observation. At night the truck folds up and rolls away. Near the truck is a large elderly woman selling eggs. She wears a heavy sweater and a red-and-green apron. This is one of a vanishing breed of people, usually elderly and poor, who earn a few extra lire selling whatever the land on which they live yields.
Library Journal
Eating as the rationale for traveling through Italy-where food and culture are so naturally bound together-is the theme of Italophile Plotkin's latest book. His ardent admiration for the country and its cuisine is evident in his personalized tour through the nation's 22 regions, including the islands of Sicily and Sardenia. Guiding us through a land bountiful and diverse in terrain, history, and tradition, he explores each area's distinctive foods and wines. When not traveling, Plotkin lectures and writes about things Italian and has penned The Authentic Pasta Book and Opera 101. He uses his extensive knowledge to create a catalog of helpful restaurant reviews, recipes (indexed), a glossary of food terms, profiles of cities and their local histories (indexed), and anecdotes that blend into an informative, entertaining, comprehensive guide. This selection is a treat for any travel collection.-David Nudo, "Library Journal"

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 8.92(h) x 1.38(d)

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Italy for the Gourmet Traveller 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oh Fred, please publish an update. Oh Fred, please travel to every other country I long to visit & write such a book! This is, hands down, the best travel book I've ever had. I should qualify that by admitting that my primary goal on any foreign vacation is to eat my way through the culinary essence of the place. For those of you who also enjoy getting to know a culture through its food & foodees, this is the book for you. For each region, he describes the 'typical' cuisine of the area. He then recommends a restaurant where you can experience the epitome of that region's cuisine. Then he recommends restaurants, trattorias, wine shops, & markets throughout the region, so that you can enjoy it from fine dining to a picnic. The most memorable experiences of our trip to Italy were a direct result of Fred's recommendations. I heartily recommend La Muliaterre in San Remo & the tiny mom& pop place in Pescara behind the tobacco shop!