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Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.

Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#1 by Kitkat3
» 18 Apr 2017, 13:22

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Not My Mother's Kitchen" by Rob Chirico.]

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4 out of 4 stars
Review by Kitkat3
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Not My Mother’s Kitchen: Rediscovering Italian-American Cooking Through Stories and Recipes by Rob Chirico is a wonderful mixture of history, culture, family, and food. The book opens with an Introduction about Chirico’s early life and why cooking became so important to him. While reading, I found myself feeling sorry for his mother, because he makes it clear that her lack of skill and motivation in the kitchen is precisely what motivated him. However, there are many fond memories in this cookbook/memoir as well. He even includes family pictures in the Introduction and at the end of the book.

I tried a couple recipes from the book including Linguine with Broccolini in Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce (I used penne and zucchini instead as suggested). I really like this recipe, because even with the heavy cream it’s a very light meal. I don’t know how to describe it other than it tastes like Summer. I also made the Long Simmered Summer Tomato Sauce. I made a half a batch with 1.5 pounds of tomatoes and ended up with about 1 ½ cups of sauce. Cut in half it should have made 1 quart of sauce. Therefore, I believe that the measurements are off. However, the sauce was very good. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may like the April Tomato Sauce better. I also tried the Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes with Balsamic Vinegar and Minestrone with Pesto. My favorite was hands down the Minestrone. The soup itself had wonderful flavor with all of the vegetables and the Parmesan rind, but the pesto gave it the extra kick that it needed to taste wonderful. All of the recipes have very good flavor, but they are similar to what you would find in other Italian cookbooks.

The author outlines the difference between traditional Italian and American cooking and how much these food cultures have blended together. He emphasizes quality ingredients and informs the reader about different types of cheeses, tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, etc. He specifies what is the best for each recipe and methods that will make sure that each recipe results in optimal deliciousness. Occasionally, he explains when different vegetables and fruits featured in a recipe are in season and how to best preserve them when they are not.

What set this apart from other cookbooks are the paragraphs before each recipe that detail pieces of the Italian culture and history that pertain to that particular dish. He reveals who really created the Caesar salad and why olive oil tastes so different in America than it does it Italy. Why does everything taste better in Rome, from meat to cheese to olive oil? He has the answer. I found the history lessons in this book interesting, and Chirico’s humorous explanations made it even more enjoyable. Sometimes the recipe is also preceded by a memory of for example a dinner with friends. I can really appreciate that because I also associate food with memories. I believe that cooking, eating, and life should not be separate entities, because food has the capability of bringing people together.

Another major element of this book is the debate that food is over processed and that America in particular has been brainwashed by the promise of fast, wonderful, cheap meals in the freezer section. He writes about his awe seeing ads depicting strong men eating ready-made meals. He emphasizes that these promises from the food industry are empty because these foods that never go bad “were never good in the first place.” Moreover, this book is about good food and how the food industry is full of nutritionally lacking junk and how it tends to prey on lower income families the most with their quick, cheap appeal.

The memoir section of the book closes with a nice part about his mother. I think that was a good way to end the book. The Appendix lists influential cookbooks for Italian cuisine and just cooking in general. There is also a “Mail Order and Online Sources” section for finding ingredients that may not be sold in American grocery stores.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The way that the book is formatted, the font, and the pictures are all visually appealing. I noticed very few grammar or formatting mistakes. The most noticeable was that salt can kill yeast which was mentioned twice under the “Pizza” section. The measurements did appear to be off in at least one of the recipes. However, I really like the idea of the cookbook/memoir, and I think that this book is very interesting. The Minestrone was so tasty that I have to give it a high rating. If you find historical explanations and family stories monotonous, this book is not for you. If you cook the recipes in this book, you will mostly be shopping in the produce section of the grocery store. As Chirico says, “pass the Parmigiano.”

******
Not My Mother's Kitchen
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#2 by Amagine
» 19 Apr 2017, 06:26

I love that it is a cookbook and a memoir. Also it's an educational book because it teaches readers a little bit about Italian culture. Italian food is my favorite so I may have to check this book out!

Great Review! 🌈
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#3 by kandscreeley
» 19 Apr 2017, 09:22

This sounds like a pretty good cookbook. I'm glad you were able to enjoy some of the recipes. I also love the paragraphs about Italian culture. Sounds like a well rounded book.
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#4 by Kitkat3
» 19 Apr 2017, 11:54

Amagine wrote:I love that it is a cookbook and a memoir. Also it's an educational book because it teaches readers a little bit about Italian culture. Italian food is my favorite so I may have to check this book out!

Great Review! 🌈


Yes, I learned some really interesting things from this book. I agree, Italian food is awesome! Thank you! :D

-- Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:57 am --

kandscreeley wrote:This sounds like a pretty good cookbook. I'm glad you were able to enjoy some of the recipes. I also love the paragraphs about Italian culture. Sounds like a well rounded book.


It is really well rounded, has a little bit of everything. It was really fun to read and review. Thanks for stopping by! :D
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#5 by Ginwi
» 26 Apr 2017, 16:55

I like food from various cultures as variety is the spice of life. A cookbook reflecting a memoire and a culture, the Italian, makes the book quite appealing to me.
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#6 by Kitkat3
» 26 Apr 2017, 17:20

I agree Ginwi! This book is really cool, because it shows how memories, culture, and food tie together. Thanks for the comment!
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#7 by LRBarton
» 27 Apr 2017, 16:13

I've never thought to read a cookbook before. sure I flip through, pick out my recipe, and get to work but never have I thought that a story could be put along with the recipes but it is a great idea. I've added this book to read and hope to learn new tricks for the kitchen and a little more about the Italian culture thank you for the honest review.
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#8 by Kitkat3
» 27 Apr 2017, 16:21

LRBarton it is a cool idea! It makes the recipes feel so personal reading some backstory about them. Thanks for the comment!
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#9 by Guppy
» 27 Apr 2017, 20:49

I love it that you not only reviewed the book but also tried making the recipes! The linguine with spicy tomato cream sauce sounds tasty. A great review.
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#10 by Kitkat3
» 27 Apr 2017, 21:03

Thank you Guppy! :D
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#11 by papaya12
» 01 May 2017, 19:52

This book sounds interesting. I like that its a book but also kind of a story. Thank you for this review!
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#12 by geoffrey ngoima
» 29 Aug 2017, 09:17

I don't know about reviewing a cookbook myself, but reading through your reviewing I see a passion and a talent, and my mouth is watering! Though coming from Africa, the foods are semi-alien to me but at the end of the day, a tomato will always be tomato everywhere you go ;)
But we also have the junk food debates/issues here and like you put it, "...brainwashed by the promise of fast, wonderful, cheap meals in the freezer section." I always prepared wholesome meals, you know, the ones from mama's pot.
Great review, thank you!
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#13 by Kitkat3
» 31 Aug 2017, 15:15

Thank you! Haha it is true a tomato is a tomato. The food that I tried from the book was very rich and fresh. Home cooking definitely is the best, I agree. Thanks for the comment!
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Re: Official Review: Not My Mother's Kitchen by Rob Chirico

Post Number:#14 by geoffrey ngoima
» 31 Aug 2017, 16:00

Kitkat3 wrote:Thank you! Haha it is true a tomato is a tomato. The food that I tried from the book was very rich and fresh. Home cooking definitely is the best, I agree. Thanks for the comment!

You're welcome!
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