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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 57.
- Review Date: 2007-03-05
- Reviewer: Staff
Surely one of the secrets to Lidia Bastianich's success as a television personality is the high quality of her companion books. Bastianich's never seem like mere collections of stills from the show; they impart new information and are full of dishes even dedicated Italophiles may not know, such as Gnocchi Ravioli with Sausage-Spinach Filling and Sage Pudding. However, the concept for her latest show, and as a result this eponymous book, feels slightly haphazard. While Bastianich is to be applauded for overlooking the obvious Tuscan targets like Florence to concentrate instead on the region's less well-known natural beauty in the Maremma area with its mammoth national park, her "places" are inconsistent. They include single cities (Padova and Treviso) and whole regions (Piedmont). And while Bastianich's native Istria offers alluring specialties such as Fresh Pasta Quills with Chicken Sauce, it makes an odd subject for an opening chapter, since it is no longer part of Italy. Bastianich's daughter and coauthor, who runs an Italian tourism company, suggests a handful of sites to visit in each location, be it Spaccanapoli in Naples or a Cistercian abbey 35 miles outside of Turin. Bastianich is probably incapable of creating a truly bad book—the recipes are as functional as they are tempting—but this all-over-the-boot offering is not her best. (Apr.)
Mangiamo con Lidia
Lidia Bastianich, the warm, engaging star of her own PBS cooking series, owns many renowned restaurants, has a line of food and kitchen products and leads epicurean tours of Italy. Her ever-popular cookbooks have invited us to her family table and explored the cuisine of Northern Italy and the Italian-American kitchen. Now, in Lidia's Italy, the companion volume to her new PBS series, she takes us to the 10 places in Italy she loves best and lets us sample her food favorites. We start where Lidia started, in Istria, a crossroads of many cultures, now part of Croatia. Lidia grew up here, then spent a few years in Trieste, our next destination. Both places intrigue with their unique blend of Slavic (sauerkraut with pork) and Italian (potato gnocchi) traditions. On to the north to eat fabulous beef in Barolo, radicchio trevisano and risotto with spinach. Heading south, we stop in Maremma, the "other Tuscany," with its elegant, unusual dishes like pappardelle with long-cooked duck sugo. Rome shows off its lusty, bold flavors; Naples, its zesty pastas and divine desserts; Sicily, its savory seafood and sun-drenched produce; and Puglia, its faro and focaccia. Lidia's daughter, Tanya, is along, too, not for the ride, but to offer end-of-chapter guides to the cultural treasures and out-of-the-way sights in each area. A must-take trip.