The Heritage of Italian Cooking

Lorenzo De Medici, Author, Lorenza De'Medici, Author Random House (NY) $45 (256p) ISBN 978-0-394-58876-6
This dignified oversize volume may better reign over a coffee table than perch on a kitchen counter, where the slip of an eager cook could mar its august beauty. Queenly color illustrations dominate, with sleekly styled photos of all recipes, as well as reproductions of paintings and prints that depict Italian cooking and eating through the ages. Despite a disappointing translation, the text is a bewitching combination of food history and recipes. We learn that Horace liked his pasta with leeks and chickpeas, and that one Renaissance cookbook advised radicchio for those ill with venereal diseases. De' Medici ( The Renaissance of Italian Cooking ) has mined historical cookbooks, reprinting original recipes along with contemporary interpretations. Fifteenth-century directions for making a pie of live birds--``you set the pie before some gentlemen and ladies, if you wish to have a little fun, and when they open the pie the . . . birds will fly away''--are accompanied by an updated version using a dozen carefully cooked quails. Although the modern recipes inconveniently measure ingredients by weight, they are temptingly toothsome. Author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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