44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Made in Italy: Food and Stories (Hardcover)
I've got tens of Italian cookbooks and this is the one I would fight to keep. It's all well and good having 40 recipes for courgettes a la 'Silver Spoon', but good food is so much more than join-the-dots recipes. It's about fantastic ingredients and people and ideas and places and inspiration and stories and passion. 'Made in Italy' is all of these things tied together with beautiful photography by the obscenely multi-talented Dan Leppard.
Technically, there isn't anything in here that a confident amateur couldn't tackle. Some of it is time consuming, as good food can be, but there's certainly nothing here on the timescale and complexity of a French cassoulet. Some of the recipes are involved, but I want that in a cookbook. If all you ever do is make bruschetta, minestrone and pasta al forno then you will eat well but your cooking will probably never improve. If you don't want a challenge and don't want to spend a happy Saturday afternoon in the kitchen hand-making tortellini or perfecting the epic cannoli di ricotta then fair enough. Stick with, say, 'Jamie's Italy': an excellent, easy to follow introduction to Italian cooking that covers all of the classics.
The recipes are all outstanding, as you would expect from a chef of Locatelli's reputation. He delights in passing on his expertise and writes with warmth, honesty and humour. What really shines is the depth of background information on ingredients and dishes, and the detailed explanations of why things are done just so. I learned more about risotto, for example, from 'Made in Italy' than from the rest of my Italian food books put together. It's this fundamental understanding of what a dish is about that will make you a better cook. Much better.
Locatelli uses authentic ingedients and this is how it should be. What fits the dish fits the dish. Not all of these ingredients are readily available from your local Happy Shopper but he usually suggests alternatives, for example substituting Sardinian Ovinfort cheese (Google hits 241) with Gorgonzola (3,710,000). Of course if you want to make bottarga salad then you're going to need a slab of bottarga and that's what the Internet is for. The book is north-centric and better for it. It specialises. Italian food is not just pasta, oil and tomatoes whatever Saturday Kitchen would have you think.
If you want a workhorse book of recipes then get 'Silver Spoon', or on a smaller scale Elizabeth David's 'Italian Food' or Oliver's 'Jamie's Italy'. 'Made in Italy' is so much more than a recipe book. If you want to come that bit closer to understanding Italy and its food and people then buy Locatelli's book, read it and love it.
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Initial post: 20 Aug 2010 11:04:41 BDT
Thank you for this excellent and thorough review, it was most helpful.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Dec 2013 23:22:38 GMT
Thanks -- I don't write many but it's nice to get feedback and I'm glad that you found the review helpful. It really is a beautiful book. (And you have to respect a book that's big and interesting enough to have 3 ribbon bookmarks :))
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