Prospero's Kitchen: Mediterranean Cooking of the Ionian Islands from Korfu to Kythera

Diana Farr Louis, Author, Diane Farr Louis, Author, Judith Lawrence Blish, Illustrator
Diana Farr Louis, Author, Diane Farr Louis, Author, Judith Lawrence Blish, Illustrator M. Evans and Company $30.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87131-782-7
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-1-78076-136-7
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The first third of this volume offers an uneven cultural history that alternates between the confusingly abbreviated (``With the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Ionian Islands automatically became part of the Byzantine Empire, its successor,'' observe the authors, when others would argue that the islands had been part of the Eastern Roman Empire since 395C.E.) to the pointlessly anecdotal. Similarly frustrating, a list of common ingredients notes that only Corfiotes use such hot spices as paprika and cayenne, but it isn't until 50-odd pages later that the authors suggest why (Corfu's location gave it more immigrants from Macedonia and the Balkans, where these condiments were common). In many of the 150 recipes that follow, though, the principal contribution comes not from any Old World source but from the New: tomatoes abound (grated, diced, sun-dried, in paste, sauce and juice), giving to many dishes a blurring sameness. Still, the recipes are simple, healthy (if not low-cal-there are oceans of olive oil) and the directions are usually clear. Best are the breads and desserts, which most fully reflect a variety of sources, including Bread Pudding from the British protectorate era, Nut and Spice Rolls that fall somewhere between baklava and mincemeat and a lovely panettone-like Christmas Spice Bread. (Aug.)
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