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Publishers WeeklyCookbook author Koehler (La Paella) takes readers on a culinary tour of the Mediterranean in this inspired collection of starchy dishes from Italy, Spain, Algeria, Malta, Morocco, and elsewhere. More than a one-off collection of token recipes, Koehler digs deep, offering insight into the importance of rice, pasta and couscous in regional cuisines through lengthy tales of his years immersed in Mediterranean kitchens and restaurants. Liberally seasoned with photos of local characters as well as finished dishes, the book falls into a comfortable valley between travelogue and cookbook. Koehler's patient, detailed instructions and color commentary are transporting, whether he's discussing his favorite cabbage rolls, found in Dubrovnik; the tomato pilaf he discovered during a trip to Istanbul; or a recipe he squired away from Countess Rosetta Clara Cavalli d'Oliviola in Vermicelli, Italy (for Whiskey Risotto with Rosemary). Though classics like Paella and Ravioli are included, the emphasis is on lesser-known but equally satisfying dishes like Pappardelle with Duck Ragu and Tunisian Lamb Couscous with Meatballs. Though far from the definitive work on rice, pasta and couscous, this makes a palate-rousing roundup for hose with a taste for travel.
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