Recipes from Paradise: Life & Food on the Italian Riviera

Fred Plotkin, Author Little Brown and Company $31.5 (496p) ISBN 978-0-316-71071-8
Many of the foods of Liguria--the Italian region known to foreigners as the Italian Riviera--have already become popular in the United States, and Plotkin (The Authentic Pasta Book, etc.) does an admirable job of collecting authentic versions of them. Pesto is the pride of Liguria, and Plotkin offers both thorough instructions (use a mortar with a wooden pestle) and 16 versions of the green sauce including Pesto di Sori (made with wild fennel) and Pesto Bianco (made with walnuts and milk). Focaccia is also handled admirably, with 10 variations including toppings such as truffles. Most recipes are earthy: Chickpea Puree with Porcini Mushrooms; Casserole of Artichokes and Peas; Savory Pie Filled with Rice and Greens. Logically, fish is abundant, ranging from delicate Sea Bass Fillets in Asparagus Sauce to the local seafood stew known as Buridda. Serious research makes this book a fascinating read, and it is full of tidbits such as Tagliatelle Bastarde (pasta ""bastardized"" with chestnut flour) that are both interesting in origin and tasty. Occasionally, however, Plotkin grows pedantic in his zeal to correct American misunderstandings. Writings about the area by everyone from Mark Twain to Ligurian native Eugenio Montale are interspersed among the recipes, and a list of resources is a nice touch--although, with typical insistence on authenticity, Plotkin includes mainly sources in Liguria itself. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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