Saturday, April 14, 2007

Made in Italy

"It is true that man does not live on bread alone;
he must eat something with it"

Pellegrino Artusi

I just picked up a copy of Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli. The quote is taken from the antipasti section. And it gives an authentic taste of Locatelli's take on food, and on life.

The main bulk of the book is a collection of stories, techniques, anecdotes and culinary thoughts, which are interspersed with recipes.
The formal recipe writing and instruction is clear, well thought out, and detailed. And the techniques he covers, for making bread, pesto, fresh pasta, are clear and detailed. The pasta description is the best I've yet read, on how to use a machine to press perfect pasta.
His perfectionist nature comes across quite well.

He pays the same attention to detail in his instructions that he expects a good chef to pay in their recipes. And the instructions have the feeling of being born of use and experience. Its restaurant quality food made perfectly accessible to the home cook, with the added twist of excellence that can only come from a Michelin starred chef. I have had more revelatory moments, in this book alone, about Italian dishes, both the classics, and the effortlessly perfect re-interpretations Locatelli provides.

The description about how he makes what must be the most perfect pesto outside Liguria is frankly stunning.

It is, for me, so far, the book of Italian cuisine. More informative about basic techique than the Silver Spoon. More broadly ranging than any of Carluccios books.
The bulk of the book, though, is anecdote. Around which recipes, techniques, and the almost inbuilt understanding of food in Italian life, are wrapped. About his grandmothers kitchen, and garden, about the family restaurant, about his families home garden, his travels and experiences in France and London, all tinged with a genuine and inherited love for his topic. The stories are wrapped around food, around recipes, around tastes and experiences. The ingredients punctuate the books stories. The ingredients are the very stuff of the book. They are the rhythm of the story, and the thing to which all Locatellis stories, recipes, tastes and feelings return.

Locatelli writes in such an unassuming fashion. The brash ego of some food writers is largely absent. Instead, he writes with genuine affection and gratitude about the people, the food, the
ingredients, and the experiences that seem to have all fed into the sense of conviviality with which he infuses his food, his writing, his chefs and his restaurant.

For 30 euros, it's a snip. Any lover of Italian food simply must have it.


lorraine@italianfoodies said...

I've been meaning to buy this book for ages. I really ike him as a chef, he's very passionate and down to earth about his cooking. I find the Silver Spoon assumes you know the basics of cooking which is fine for us but I think it might be difficult to follow for others. Anyway I'm off to Eason's now that you have reminded me!!!

Abulafia said...

A fantastic book, and one deservedly beloved of Italophiles everywhere.

Good news on the Leader article as well. Hope the publicity contimues to roll in.