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Risotto With Nettles: A Memoir with Food Hardcover – 30 Jul 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (30 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701180986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701180980
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 425,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`Double the pleasure with the great Anna del Conte's lovely memoir with food' --The Scotsman

Book Description

Anna Del Conte is the woman who first brought Italian cooking to Britain. Sharply observant, enchanting and evocative, a poignant memoir of an unusual woman's life and the food she loves to cook, which began a culinary revolution.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Colin Roth on 31 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anna del Conte writes with such disarming honesty about her life, work and relationships that you can understand why, as she tells us towards the end of this lovely book, her mother once commented that she'd better watch out as any husband would want to throw her out of a window after two months. This book contains, I believe, one of the most moving accounts I've read of what it is to lose a life partner, to be alone and bereft - at least, until a troupe of lively grandchildren reappear to brighten the shadows of old age - but there's nothing but sharp observation and energy in this account of an Italian childhood and the terribly English life that followed it after an entirely accidental encounter in Westminster Abbey just after the war.

The author's laconic sense of humour is evident throughout: she takes several hefty swipes at the English, teasing with a discussion of the relative merits of horse, donkey and mule meat that's guaranteed, as she perfectly well knows, to send a shiver up the spine of the average English reader. Using language most editors would normally prefer to avoid, there's a recipe for kids that she allows them to name as `Elephant's Turd', and she relies on what she recognises as a characteristically English disengagement from anything to do with continental Europe to use pretty strong language - but in Italian, so that's alright - about the war.

Those who are interested in social history will find a tremendous resource in the account here of the impact war had on one family and its friends, as well as fascinatingly articulate testimony from someone who belongs both to the culture she was born into, and the one she adopted.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Loyden on 14 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
Really interesting and informative - not so much a recipe book, more an autobiography with a recipe in every chapter. Illustrating that period of her life. Recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to admit I found out about Anna del Conte only recently, through Nigella. In the UK she is considered an authority on Italian food, whereas in Italy she is not particularly well known to the broad public - even if some of her books won prestigious awards. In fact, I don't think an Italian version of this book exists, which is a shame as I would have liked to give one to my mom.
I enjoyed this autobiography very much. In particular, I loved the anecdotes of Anna's privileged childhood in Milan and the description of how her family's existence changed during the war, when they had to leave the city to take shelter in the countryside. After the war, while she was spending some time in England as an au-pair, Anna met Oliver, the man who would become her husband, and moved to England to be with him. In spite of the cultural differences their marriage was long and happy. The description of how she misses him now that he's no longer with her is very touching. Being an Italian who has been abroad for a long time I could relate very well to Anna's feeling 'né carne né pesce' (neither fish nor fowl) after living for so many years in England.
Each chapter ends with a couple of recipes. Most of them sound delicious, but there are a few that are definitely not for me - I don't think I'll ever eat pig's head brawn...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sue Vickers-Thompson on 29 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
Anna Del Conte is probably one of the two (three?) best writers on Italian food, Marcella Hazan and possibly Carol Field being the others - OK there are also Rogers and Gray but Del Conte has been going longer than most. She is an academic cook in many ways, drawing on a patrician background but also with experiences of poverty and trying to cook in the UK with few ingredients at that time. This is an interesting book with some lovely recipes (I did a venison one) and fills in the gaps that are left from her cookery books, many of which are out of print. Really recommend it if you like to read about the cook as well as try the recipes - and she doesn't hide anything!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By bossy boots. on 27 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
A truly delightful book, a wander through Anna del Conte's life, almost like chatting with an old friend. Some excellent recipes (don't expect glossy photos though) Would make a wonderful gift.
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