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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique mix of content that captured me, 28 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Real Flavour of Tuscany: Portraits and Recipes from 25 of Tuscany's Culinary Artisans (Paperback)
"The real flavour of Tuscany" by Lori De Mori and Jason Lowe is described as "Portraits and recipes from 25 of Tuscany's culinary artisans" and, although accurate, this description gives no hint of the enthralling stories of enduring traditions, lifestyles and personalities that are pictured and described within.

I found this book to be written and illustrated in such a way that it sparked and maintained my interest and enthusiasm throughout, enabling me to pick it up and read it in a way that no mere 'cookbook' could ever achieve.

Trying to give one or two examples of what the book is about is quite difficult - the subjects are so varied, and all are deserving of their place within this book. For instance, with Famiglia Tistarelli (Aia della Colonna Farm) we meet Roberta and Roberto, sister and brother, running their 240 hectare farm which appears as a "speck on the map in the middle of nowhere". Alongside the auther, we discover a couple of dozen "Cinta Senese" - a variety of pig indigenous to the countryside around Sienna. We learn of their history and strengths and how they fit into the organic and holistic lifestyle of the farm. Going back to the farmhouse for lunch, the significance of the swine is clear when a platter of affetati (sliced cured meats) including several varieties of prosciutto is shared and enjoyed. This is followed by discussion of the local cattle and the preparation and enjoyment of a recipe for maremmana beef. The joys of self sufficiency are discussed and Roberto, who is by nature realistic rather than romantic, sums it all up when he concludes "it works because we like the life". The chapter concludes with the recipes for the boiled maremmana beef in beef broth with egg and parmesan, accompanied by mayonnaise and green sauce. It looks delicious, and is a great way to end the chapter!

I need to mention something which impressed me enormously with this book, and it is the quality of the photography. The emotional feel of 'being there' comes through in droves, and it is a joy just to scan through the book looking at the photographs, which are as much about the people and places as about the dishes. Jason Lowe is clearly an expert at lighting, composition and post-processing, and this really 'makes' the book for me.

In summary, this book by Lori De Mori and Jason Lowe captured my interest, presented a unique mix of content, and showed itself to be well written and illustrated. For me, it succeeds handsomely in its aim of presenting 'The real flavour of Tuscany'. Highly recommended.
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