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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Listen to Mama Tornabene talk to her butcher: "How do you dare say that this red roast is the most tender, youngest veal you have? Show me the birth certificate.... I'll become a vegetarian before I'll buy this. Come, come, Pino, before we start arguing, give me the veal you have saved for yourself." If you take your Italian food seriously, you definitely want Mama to go shopping for you. Or you will want to book a flight to Sicily so you can go eat in the restaurant she and her daughter, Giovanna, run in their home, a 13th-century Benedictine abbey in Sicily's Madonie Mountains.
The first book from the wonderful Tornabenes, La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio won a James Beard Award for Best Italian Cookbook, and now they've returned with second helpings for everybody. This time the focus is on home cooking, with its many soups, fresh vegetables, pastas, egg dishes, and more Sicilian desserts. There's a special chapter on couscous, an Arabic dish given a Sicilian spin, and one on homemade liquors, including a tangy Bay Laurel Leaf Liqueur and the lemon liqueur known as Limoncello.
What's particularly charming is the sense of family and daily life that come from the little stories interspersed throughout the book, like the day the little dog Ciccio got into the hen house -- "Murder in the Hen House!" -- or the time a bar of soap inadvertently dropped into a pot of boiling water for pasta --resulting in a new recipe,"Spaghetti with Soap." (Ginger Curwen)