By Colman Andrews
Chronicle Books, $50
This book, the third in a series and the second by award-winning journalist and author Colman Andrews, is all about simple, pure Italian cooking. Forgoing sophisticated, citified dishes, Andrews focuses on rustic fare made by Mamma. Based on more than 40 years of traveling and eating in Italy, it’s a cookbook, travelogue, and memoir all rolled into one. At its heart are 250 soulful recipes that Andrews picked up along the way, written in a charming “I don’t believe much in exact measurements” manner. Some dishes you’ll know, like Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic and Rosemary, and some you won’t, like Casunziei, a beet and turnip ravioli from the Veneto region. What moves the book along are Andrews’s history-heavy accounts, slice-of-life stories, and thoughtful chapter introductions. With humor, reverence, and mouthwatering photography, this book brings readers into the villages of Italy to celebrate the country dishes that the big cities might try to reinvent, but that are otherwise truly irreplaceable.
Mozzarella in Carrozza (page 34) Crisp and unforgettable, these battered and fried fresh mozzarella-stuffed sandwiches are easy enough for lunch and extraordinary enough for company.
Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pistachio Pesto (page 97) This dish counts on the richness of pistachios to give Genovese-style basil pesto a new slant. Tossed with al dente spaghetti and small, sweet shrimp, it’s at once familiar and different, and quite delicious.