Several years ago, on a break between theatrical gigs in Alabama, Mark traveled to Italy and fell in love with the people, food and culture. Armed with just enough courage, minimal Italian language skills, and a certain proficiency in the kitchen, he enrolled in a full-immersion cooking and language program. He would travel to Viterbo, Italy and live with an Italian family.
His teachers were beyond his wildest dreams-he learned to cook from the grandmother, or Nonna, of the family, who prepared every meal in a bustling, busy household, as women in her family have done for generations. Her daughter, Alessandra, taught him the language with patience and precision. Besides culinary secrets and prepositions, they opened their lives to him, and made him a real part of their extensive family.
Though the book contains authentic, delicious family recipes Nonna shared with Mark, Beyond the Pasta delves into food memoir subject matter not found in a typical cookbook. It was the day-to-day shopping with Nonna, exploring the countryside and le gelaterie, where he truly developed his language skills, and a new, more joyful and uniquely Italian way of looking at the world.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)|
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After you've had a glorious day laughing and learning with this book, you'll want to shout "Bellissimo!" Wow! So much more than a cookbook! This is a captivating diary of the author's stay in Italy learning the Italian language and taking an intense Italian cooking class. There are recipes, but this is not primarily a cookbook. Reading about the author's Italian experience made me feel like I'd traveled to Italy on an extended vacation. Within the pages, you'll visit 41 churches in Italy! You'll walk around Italy at night! You'll learn how to pronounce bruschetta correctly (brew-sket-tah). You'll discover that, in Italy, it is considered high treason to have pasta not used and served immediately after being cooked. Don't get me wrong. There are recipes and lots of useful tips like how to easily flip a frittata and how to debone a chicken while keeping it whole. Some of the recipes are Zucchini & Onion Frittata, Eggplant Meatballs, Eggplant Pizza, Fried Zucchini, Baked Tuscan Trout, Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Spaghetti with Tuna. The recipes are not complicated. A HUGE Thank you to the author for noting recipes that can easily be made gluten-free. LOL! You'll even learn how to describe kitchen mishaps! ("Disastro") I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought they'd like to visit Italy, stay with a family there and immerse yourself in simple Italian cuisine! This is a treasure trove! After you've had a glorious day laughing and learning with this book, you'll want to shout "Bellissimo!" 5 Stars!
Even as someone who has lived in Italy for seven-plus years, I found Mark's story lively and engaging -- and believe me, that doesn't always happen for me with books in this genre. Beyond the Pasta is about Mark's month with an Italian family in Viterbo, learning both the Italian language and Italian cuisine. The book is Mark's journal of experiences during that time, each curiosity and peculiarity noted and explored, with mysteries often left to be answered in subsequent chapters. I particularly enjoyed how we live through Mark's time in Viterbo without misunderstandings corrected until they were done so in real time, even something so basic as the nickname of one of his hosts -- I think many of us can identify with mishearing/mispronouncing/misunderstanding Italian names you've never heard before! As an added bonus, you get nearly 30 of Nonna's authentic Italian recipes, including a previously secret ricetta for what looks to be a delicious yogurt cake Mark calls "Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa" because the ingredients are measured out using the empty yogurt cup. Mark's love for both Italian culture and his adopted family shines through his writing; his enthusiasm is contagious and kept me turning pages. I was truly sad when Mark's time with his adopted family was over and even shed a tear or two. I remember very clearly what it was like to leave Italy reluctantly, and all that came flooding back to me with Mark's words. The star that's missing in my review is because there were some Italian (grammar and spelling) mistakes throughout the book, and that's a pet peeve of mine personally; some were there because Mark is a novice in the language and that's OK, but others should have been caught through tight editing. That said, I don't this it takes anything away from the wonderfulness of the book for most readers, and I would give it 4 3/4 stars if I could. Indeed, I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Italy and all things Italian; it would make a perfect gift for the Italophile on your list.
Beyond the Pasta is part memoir, part travelogue, part cookbook. Author Mark Leslie takes you with him as he spends a month living with a family in Viterbo, Italy, learning to cook with the grandmother and to speak Italian with her daughter. It is both funny and touching, and you absolutely feel as if you are experiencing Italy with him. And fortunately, after reading a chapter filled with descriptions of fabulous food, you are treated to a recipe at the end of each one. The companion website/blog, with the same title as the book, has shopping lists for the recipes, and more great photos. Mark has an incredible ability to take you along with him on this wonderful journey. You will fall in love with the family and the place, just as he did. I highly recommend this one for anyone.