Regional Foods of Southern Italy

Marlena de Blasi, Author Viking Books $28.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-88384-4
In this follow-up to Regional Foods of Northern Italy, de Blasi covers the savory bottom half of the boot, an area less well-known to American travelers. In an evocative, if sometimes overwrought style, she portrays both places (""The Abruzzo has a terrible magnificence"") and people, such as Elisabetta, an Abruzzese woman who, when her son was dispatched to Sicily for military service, accompanied him so that he wouldn't be lonely. An old Italian joke has it that the inhabitants of each city believe that the south begins below them, so that Milanese consider Romans southerners and Romans consider themselves northerners but assure each other that Neapolitans are southerners. De Blasi's south begins with the region of Latium (where Rome is located) and moves down to Sicily. Recipes accurately reflect regional tastes and are of high quality. Rome offers Salt Cod Braised with Tomatoes, Raisins and Pine Nuts. From Abruzzo there is Handmade Pasta with Sweet and Fiery Dried Chiles and The Ritual Soup for the First of May (first prepared by seven virgins, at least according to legend). Campania supplies Still-on-Their-Stems Miniature Tomatoes with Buffalo Milk Mozzarella. Craggy Puglia offers Crisp and Smooth Pasta with Chick Peas (half of the pasta is cooked normally, the other half crisped in olive oil). Cooks whose culinary adventures have heretofore stopped at Tuscany will discover a whole new world of ""Italian food."" (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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