This is the second of Carol Field's books that I've read (the first one I picked up was "Celebrating Italy") and her hallmarks seem to be meticulous, yet loving, research and a writing style that manages to evoke the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and flavors of Italian cooking to a mouth-watering degree.
"In Nonna's Kitchen" is a cookbook that Field researched by going to Italy and culling time-honored, taste-tested recipes from several authentic Italian grandmothers. I have not yet tried any of the recipes, but reading them feels like good eatin'. I usually dislike cookbooks that don't feature a picture of every recipe. "In Nonna's Kitchen" contains no pictures of food, but the recipes and Field's writing on Italian cuisine and culture make pictures unnecessary.
Ah, yes, culture. It's easy to see Field not so much as a food writer, but as an eager and loving student of Italian culture. She does much honor to the Italian grandmothers who contributed to this book by providing a lengthy, colorful profile of each of them. In these profiles, the "nonne" discuss how they learned to cook, what their lives have been like, how cooking has changed over the courses of their lifetimes, etc. In addition to these formal profiles, Field includes little anecdotes about several of the grandmothers within the recipes they provided.
These are not your stereotypical black-shawled, muttering Italian grandmothers, either. They range in age from 40s-90s, and a good many of them are classically beautiful, stylish women. All of them, however, are quintessentially Italian in that they place great importance on good, simple food made from the freshest local ingredients.
I plan to buy copies of "In Nonna's Kitchen" and "Celebrating Italy" for myself; they're too good not to own. Carol Field now has the distinction of being my favorite food writer!