Italian Moms: Something Old, Something New

Elisa Costantini, with Frank Costantini. Sterling Epicure, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4549-2798-3
Only a stone could resist Costantini’s heartfelt sophomore effort (after Italian Moms: Spreading Their Art to Every Table). In 1961 at age 23, Costantini left the Abruzzo for the U.S., where she would be joined by her husband, Francesco, and daughter, Nadia, “to start a new life.” Local Italian specialties, like Abruzzo’s famous “seven virtues” soup with nearly 50 ingredients, and puff pastry fiadoni with cheese filling, are well represented, and essays about festivals and Costantini’s annual tradition of making sausages with her brother couldn’t be sweeter. Writing with her son Frank, she offers recipes for a sausage paella (which she argues is similar to risotto as it is prepared in Venice); spaghetti with lamb and saffron; and a shrimp and scallop casserole. Unfortunately, the organization can feel scattered—seafood risotto sits in the main course chapter while four other risottos reside among the first courses, for instance. But all is forgiven after reading Costantini’s story about her mother pressing one lira into her hand so she could treat herself to watermelon during the long trip to America. Costantini presents these hearty, approachable recipes with sincerity and grace. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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