|Here is a cookbook that truly understands how Italians eat. “Italian meals are structured in a way that keeps family and friends at the table,” the introduction tells us. The focus on family and friends eating together is a central theme throughout this book. In addition to being family-centric, the Italian way of eating is closely tied to the seasons. Italians eat based on what is locally available at that time of year; therefore a hearty winter meal will be quite different than a light summer lunch.The authors, Edward Giobbi and his daughter Eugenia Giobbi Bone, contend that we should always try to eat what is locally in season. We live in modern times where produce can be shipped to our supermarket from any part of the world that it may still be in season, so why not eat what I want when I want? “Because seasonal vegetables travel less distance, they have more time to ripen on the plant. As a result, they are fresher, tastier, healthier,” we are told. A great point is also made that the anticipation of the season for a favorite fruit or vegetable adds to the enjoyment of it when it finally does arrive.
Italian Family Dining is divided into four parts: spring, summer, fall and winter. Within each season you will find chapters on first courses, second courses, vegetables and salads, and desserts. Eugenia detailing wonderful memories of Giobbi family meals throughout her life also peppers these sections with entertaining stories. We are also provided with menu ideas like, “A Simple Summer Dinner for Company”, “A Family Fall Lunch”, and “A Sexy Winter Dinner”.
The recipes are simple, easy to follow and delicious. Many recipes do contain ingredients that aren’t readily available at your average supermarket. Unless you live close to a gourmet food market or live in a mansion in Katonah with enough land for a huge vegetable garden, as the authors do, you may get frustrated trying to find fresh zucchini blossoms or onion blossoms, for example. This is a minor quibble however, as there are plenty of wonderful recipes with easy to acquire ingredients.
Some of the interesting and tasty recipes in Italian Family Dining are: Spaghetti with Tuna and Anchovies, Pasta Primavera (which the book claims Edward introduced to Le Cirque chef Jean Vergnes who is widely regarded as the inventor of the version popularized in America), Butternut Squash and Rice Soup, Codfish with Brocoletti di Rape, Parchment-Wrapped Sausage with Fennel and Onions, Risotto with Quail, and Linguini with Blue Crab Sauce.
There are so many cookbooks on the market that are just boring collections of recipes, that sometimes it’s hard to tell one from another. That’s what makes it so refreshing when a book like Italian Family Dining comes along that actually has a recognizable theme and message. This is more like a collection of family memories with delicious recipes, that helps to educate about true Italian dining and it’s benefits.
Publisher: Rodale Books, 2005
Hardcover: 288 pages