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The Timeless Art of Italian Cuisine

Anna Maria Volpi

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Palatino Inc

Published : 2003

Copyright : Anna Maria Volpi 2003

ISBN-10 : PB 0-9729229-0-3
ISBN-13 : PB Not Known

Publisher's Write-Up

A Unique New Cookbook Arrives: The Timeless Art of Italian Cuisine – Centuries of Scrumptious Dining by Anna Maria Volpi, renowned chef and Italian cooking instructor.

This charming book includes fascinating historical background on Italy’s cuisine, little-known anecdotes about the origins of many classic Italian dishes, and a treasury of wonderful family recipes. More than 170 classic Italian recipes are featured in this book. Italian staple foods like polenta, gnocchi, risotto, and of course pasta, are thoroughly explained, both historically and in the traditional cooking techniques used to create unforgettable dishes.

Anna Maria offers us an intimate exploration of Italian cuisine as it has developed throughout Italy from ancient Rome to the present day. Her book is an exciting journey that carries us across the Italian peninsula and into Italy’s different regions. Each chapter contains colourful discussions about the history, geography, culture, and foods of a specific region. Her approach gives us a special understanding and appreciation for the history and diversity of Italian food and how it should be prepared.

The pace of life today and the convenience of fast food are taking the joy out of our modern kitchens. Anna Maria’s book emphasizes how important it is to look back and reflect on the history and significance of the great cultural cooking traditions. "Cooking is not merely a matter of processing food," says Pietro Mascioni, Anna Maria’s husband and co-author of the book, "but rather it is like a language with thousands of dialects: each dish is like a word that needs its proper spelling. Like a language, cooking is the product of a region and its people, with deep roots in history."

As fans of Italian food know, the greatness of Italian gastronomy is not in strange, unusual food combinations, but in the careful attention given to the taste and freshness of the basic ingredients.

Continuing in this tradition, Anna Maria’s recipes are clear and precise, and reflect her great love for simplicity. Writing in the book preface, Anna Maria notes, "I don’t even consider myself a ‘chef,’ a term that should be reserved for the professionals working in the kitchens of restaurants. Like most of my students and readers, I am simply someone who loves to cook and share food with others. It is an ancient, familiar way to communicate with those we care about; sitting together at the table unifies a family and draws friends closer together."

After reading this book, the attentive cook will approach Italian cooking with a newfound respect for those who, for centuries, lit the fire, prepared these classic dishes, and contributed to their evolution.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (110404) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Rating 9/10
The Timeless Art of Italian Cuisine is a book of seven Chapters:

  • One All Roads Lead to Rome: The Food of the Capital.
  • Two The Land of City States: The Food of Northern Italy.
  • Three The Universal Food Pasta Fresca.
  • Four Under the Sign of the Lily The Food of Tuscany.
  • Five Pizza and Beyond The food of Southern Italy.
  • Six Macaroni Addiction Dry Pasta.
  • Seven The Island of the Sun The Food of Sicily.

An overview of Italian Cooking is offered in the Introduction What is Italian Cooking. A How to page is presented to explain methods, ingredients, and the like prior to the beginning page of the introduction. A wonderful recipe for Bruschetta garlic bread, another for Amaretti Italian almond cookies, and step-by-step directions for making pasta all are presented. The recipe for Ravioli Dolci sweet ravioli sounds intriguing, Ragu’ Alla Napoletana tomato sauce Neapolitan style combines olive oil, wine, tomatoes and other ingredients into a taste tempting treat.

Author Volpi "began her culinary education in her native Italy" where she learned to prepare traditional Roman dishes under her father’s tutelage. Today Volpi is a well-known teacher and culinary master living in Los Angeles, California where she teaches traditional Italian home cooking to groups, in private classes and for special events. Volpi and her husband, co-author, research master of the historical portion of the book Pietro Mascioni have co authored a wonderful addition to any kitchen.

The Timeless Art of Italian Cuisine is a book of 150 jam-packed pages of at least 170 recipes sure to delight both the aficionado of Italian cooking and those who collect cookbooks for the book itself. Recipes are presented by region. Along with recipes native to the area a bit of history of the locale is included to guide the reader into a better understanding of how many of the foods we take for granted came to be. Traditional cooking methods are explained, staples to the Italian table are presented in easily understood jargon.

The work is a delight to the eyes whether the reader ever tries a recipe or not. Historical background for specific dishes and areas of Italy, wonderful old wood cut type illustrations, easily followed recipes all are included. I was especially taken with the section entitled And then Alfredo. As an Alfredo addict, reading the historical background for my favourite dish was a treat.

This is one book sent for review that I WILL keep. I do collect cookbooks, and after pouring over this lovely one may even try a recipe or two before too many more days pass by.

Enjoyed the Read, Happy to recommend.
Molly Martin (11th April 2004)

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