The richness of Italy's festivals and legends, its miracles and mystery and, above all, its vibrant and passionate culinary heritage was vividly depicted in Carol Field's Celebrating Italy. Paula Wolfert called this inspired account of three years traveling through Italy, "The most intense, energetic and brightest work yet written on the Italian celebration of food." Field has resumed her loving journey through the marble-strewn hills of Carrara, the fertile Po valley and the seaside fishing villages and inland towns of Campania. If Celebrating Italy was dedicated to exploring the feasts and pageantry of the Italian panorama, In Nonna's Kitchen: Traditional Culture and Recipes from Italian Grandmothers is a delightful account of the irrepressible guardians of Italy's culinary heritage: le nonne—the grandmothers.
As day-to-day life in Italy is rapidly becoming urbanized, and the Italian home cook is more pressed than ever to rely upon expediency and convenience, In Nonna's Kitchen is a nostalgic invocation of the loving preparation of the unique dishes and tastes of Italy's small towns and neighborhoods. Visiting the homes of nearly fifty matriarchs throughout the Italian peninsula, Field has chronicled more than 150 recipes—some nearly lost to time—as well as the stories, history and wisdom that has made traditional Italian cooking an intense celebration of life. In the loving hands of these tireless keepers of the country hearth, such dishes as Polpettini di Urri (Tiny Veal Meatballs from an Albanian community in Molise), Carne alla Pizzaiola (Beef the Pizza Maker's Way), and Budino della Nonna (Grandmother's Custardy Chocolate Pudding) are now preserved and passed on to future generations.
With her trademark style of excitement and culinary expertise, Field pays homage to the traditions, techniques, culture and creativity of these venerable women. There are no other places to discover a unique recipe for Ragu Genovese, where the onions are slowly cooked almost to a cream, or 'Ncip 'Nciap, a scramble of eggs, red onions, and chicken that gets its name from the sound of the knife chopping the onions. The recipes are punctuated with a grace and humor that comes from the heart. Witness the almost sinful Crema Bacchicai or Bacchus's Pudding. This singular dessert is a cinnamon and clove-scented pudding flavored with wine that would delight even the lusty god of wine himself. If all roads lead to Rome, there is probably not one that Field has missed in her quest to capture the priceless secrets of le nonne—Italy's most beloved and respected cooks.
About the Author:
One of America's most admired and successful food writers, Carol Field has written several cookbooks including The Italian Baker, Italy in Small Bites and Focaccia: Simple Breads from the Italian Oven. Field resides in San Francisco, California. In Nonna's Kitchen is an alternate selection of The Good Cook, a division of Book-of-the-Month Club.
In Nonna's Kitchen
by Carol Field
ISBN: 0-06-017184-7 Reprinted with permission
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
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