cover image Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey

Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey

Editors of America’s Test Kitchen. National Geographic, $40 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4262-1974-0

This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a vivid culinary journey of Italy’s 20 provinces, from the Italian Alps of Valle d’Aosta to the juniper-scented coastlines of Sardinia. Chapters open with fascinating historical information about a particular region and discussion of the origins of Italian staples, such as anchovies, which have been used as a seasoning in Lazio since the days of ancient Rome; polenta, which derived from corn first brought to Veneto from the New World in 1554; and eggplant, which Arabs introduced to Sicily in the ninth century. Dozens of intriguing sidebars supply fun facts (“Since ancient times, merchants have been known to cut extra-virgin olive oil with cheap oil to increase profits”) and in-depth information about a food item (“During the Middle Ages, sour orange was a status food for the elite... [its] popularity was eventually displaced by other citrus fruits... most famous [being] blood oranges”). One hundred easy-to-follow recipes showcase Italy’s diverse cuisine, such as grilled polenta with a salted cod spread from Veneto; Sicilian pasta with tomato and almond pesto; braised oxtails in a tomato sauce from Lazio; fava bean puree with sautéed escarole from Puglia; Calabrian grilled swordfish with a citrus-herb sauce; and chocolate hazelnut cake from Piedmont. Along with gorgeous photography, illustrated maps, lists of culinary festivals, and poetic prose, this book is a must for Italophiles. [em](Oct.) [/em]