Some readers of this publication may be lucky enough to own the original edition of the first volume of this wonderful book, published in 1981. I can still remember my sense of excitement, reading the first chapter's opening lines: "Pitigliano, the medieval village in Tuscany where I was born and raised, was built on top of a titanic, boat-shaped, tufaceous rock, with constructions heaped one on top of the other as if they were an outgrowth of the rock itself....Like many villages in that area, Pitigliano depended for its survival on small, private farming and did not differ from (other nearby) villages except for one important thing: it was the home of a large and culturally important Jewish community." With those foew words I already knew that what I held in my hands was not yet another compendium of regional recipes, but a specific cluster of tastes and memories centered about a particular cook, a woman-and, as it turns out, a wuite remarkable one at that. Her story gave th!
e recipes flavors that mingled those of the kitchen with others from the world outside....The many good simple dishes in this book lead us to understand that, whatever Italian cooking may be, those who come by it as a birthright need no special lessons. Edda Servi Machlin inhaled it in the aroma of the wood-smoke of the baking ovens, saw it in the barrels of squirming (and tref) eels in the little fruit and nut store beneath the family apartment, savored it in the piece of toast dipped into the first-pressed olive oil of the season, still warm from the mill....Now, a decade later, we have a second volume, written very much in the spirit of the first...This book is a self-portrait of a gifted Italian-Jewish cook of a certain age, composed of the recipes with which she prepares her family's meals. In this regard it seems an even more personal culinary statement than the first. In a casual-seeming dish of simmered Swiss chard, she makes distinctions-lemon and garlic with spinach,!
but vinegar and onion with chard-that speak of years of polishing even the simplest dishes until they become family favorites. Readers leave these pages inspired by both the dishes and the example.