3 out of 4 stars
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"Cooking Across Italy" by Lucrezia Toste O'brien is mainly a cookbook, but it is a cookbook that was written as a labor of love. The author has a family history of cooks, and her ancestry is Italian. So, she decided to travel frequently to various parts of Italy to immerse herself in its culture and her heritage. While she visited, she took cooking classes in the different regions. This book is her compilation of some of the recipes she learned while she was there. It is also a travel journal of sorts, providing accounts of some of the activities she did while visiting and the people she met along the way. The book is complete with photos of the journey that accompany the stories and recipes.
This is a very detailed and comprehensive cookbook. It encompasses so many parts of Italy and its varied types of cuisine. The recipes are concise and easy enough for a novice cook to follow. The ingredients are clearly listed, and none of them seem to be too exotic to find in a conventional grocery store. I enjoyed reading this book. It opened my eyes to the types of food that is consumed in Italy. I have never been there and didn't know much about the traditional dishes. After reading this cookbook, I have a better grasp of the region and a good starting point to try making some of the dishes on my own.
My favorite part of this book is that it serves as a travel guide and memoir as well as a cookbook. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the different regions of Italy at the beginning of each section. I also thought the personal tales the author included added to the originality of the book. The photos are a cute addition as well. They make the author a much more relatable person.
While I did enjoy this book a lot and found great value in it, it didn't have an extremely professional feeling to it. The writing was a bit amateur, and a lot of the sections seemed like journal entries written more for the author herself and not for a greater audience. The book seemed edited, and I didn't find many errors, but it didn't have a very sophisticated feel to the writing. My least favorite part was that there was no conclusion. Each section had a brief introduction, but there was nothing at the end to tie the whole trip and all the highlights of Italy together.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. I think it is a cute cookbook with a lot of different recipes for the reader to try. The personal stories added to the book. At the same time, it still needs a bit of work to make it appear a bit more literary or professional. I would recommend this to anyone interested in cooking Italian dishes or to anyone just interested in Italy. This would be a great book to look through before heading on a trip to Italy. If you're not interested in cooking at all, I probably wouldn't give it a try. I know reading this book made me hungry and eager to try out some new recipes in my own kitchen.
"Cooking Across Italy"
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