cover image Pasta Classica

Pasta Classica

Julia della Croce, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $27.5 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-414-0

Informal history, musings, recipes and gsplendid artwork render this volume entertaining for armchair cooks as well as useful in the kitchen. Readers can browse leisurely through accounts of authentic mozzarella (made from water buffalo milk), fascist antipasta propaganda of the 1930s, memories of a donkey-driven grinding wheel that turned wheat into flour, reproductions of a hand-colored engraving of a saffron crocus, a simple pen-and-ink drawing of a soup tureen and Torriglia's 19th century painting of a monk eating noodles. Oddly enough, a weak point in the volume is the photos accompanying basic instructions for making fresh pasta. Pictures are offered of the ingredients and of the finished dough, but beginners need more help on the intermediate steps. An ample selection of recipes is provided. Sauces include Bolognese tomato-and-meat sauce and an uncooked tomato sauce. Fresh pasta is featured in such dishes as taglierini with fish and lemon sauce and tomato tagliatelle with lobster saffron cream sauce, while separate recipes for dried pasta include spaghetti with raw tomatoes and avocado and pasta with pink vodka sauce, Flavia style. The author is a freelance food writer. (October)