David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen: Family Recipes from the Old Country

David Ruggerio, Author, Maura McEvoy, Photographer
David Ruggerio, Author, Maura McEvoy, Photographer Artisan $30 (248p) ISBN 978-1-57965-115-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Classically French-trained chef (formerly of Le Chantilly in New York City) and former Food Network host Ruggerio returns to his southern Italian roots (via Naples, Sicily and Brooklyn) with irrepressible enthusiasm. Ruggerio draws a distinction between the cooking of Naples (from his mother's side), which is ""colorful and accessible, using mostly basic ingredients,"" and that of Sicily (his father's homeland), which he describes as ""complex and subtle, calling for some `exotic' ingredients."" More than 150 recipes from both regions are folded into the book's seven chapters: antipasti, soups, pasta, fish and shellfish, meat and fowl, vegetables and desserts. Unlike many Italian cookbook chefs, Ruggerio sincerely attempts to enlighten readers about the country's regional differences. In short essays, he differentiates, for example, between the Neapolitan and Sicilian dialects and the ""Fisherman in the Bay of Naples"" and ""La Tonnara,"" the Sicilian tuna fishing tradition, often with tongue-in-cheek humor. The straightforward recipes aim for authentic, traditional preparations, such as Silken Scallion Soup with Squid, She-Crabs Marinara, Saut ed Sweet-and-Sour Tuna Steaks, Tripe Parmesan, Chicken Baked in Clay and Neapolitan Cauliflower Salad. Instructive sidebars introduce readers to Italian fundamentals, such as cooking pasta, filleting fish and roasting peppers. Alternating between entertainer and teacher, Ruggerio regales readers with countless amusing anecdotes, from yarns about his overprotective, meddling Sicilian aunt Josie (who insisted her daughter spend her honeymoon at home) to his hypochondriac friend Joey Baccala. Melding a bent for tall tales with alluring preparations, Ruggerio inspires readers to explore southern Italy with a smile and an adventurous palate. (May)
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