Roma: Authentic Recipes from in and Around the Eternal City
Julia della Croce. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2352-4
Della Croce's cup of unforgettable recipes runneth over in this handy compendium of Roman cuisine, sprinkled generously with delicious culinary proverbs (""Eating without drinking is like building without mortar""). In a handsomely illustrated book happy to remain open on a busy countertop, the veteran chef and culinary teacher presents dozens of local recipes from Italy's Lazio region, and Rome in particular. Organized in the order they would be eaten, from antipasto to dolci, the dishes are generally so accessible that even novice cooks will prepare them with relative ease. There are sections on appetizers and first courses, a detailed listing of second courses--traditionally meat or fish--and tempting chapters on side dishes and sweets. Though it is difficult to isolate just one standout from each section, Risotto with Pureed Asparagus and Smoked Provola and della Croce's own Fish Fillets in Caper Sauce alla romana are both particularly pleasing. The author also includes rarely seen recipes, such as the homey Pasta and Chickpeas or an especially fun pizza di Pasqua, or sweet Easter bread. A few inclusions, however, such as Veal Heart with Lemon and Parsley, may be too adventuresome for all but seasoned chefs. When a specific ingredient may be difficult to find in less metropolitan areas, della Croce helpfully suggests a comparable substitute. Destefanis offers crisp photographs of the cuisine and scenic views from around the Lazio region. Sharing both recipes and many of her favorite Roman restaurants, hotels and festivals, della Croce leaves readers wishing they could abandon their own kitchens and experience the Eternal City's culinary delights firsthand.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004