Apparently the British have become a nation of voyeurs when it comes to cooking and food preparation but incredibly the desire to research ever new ways of producing something different never wanes and the rise of the cookery book continues unabated.
Jamie Oliver has almost produced every variation known to man and each one is a guaranteed best seller; his books on Italian cooking have won praise and we have to hand it to Jamie, he will always put his money where his mouth is in every aspect of food preparation no matter how ‘unsexy’ the topic may be.
Yet why do we love reading about food so much? Right now I am reading A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi and throughout the tale the author sprinkles food descriptions liberally over the page and ends each chapter with a recipe.
These days there are so many different of Italian cookery book types; you can go for food porn which is full colour, full frontal spread of gastronomic temptation, a scholarly tome which gives you every fact you ever wanted to know about an ingredient; something akin to literature or perhaps a picaresque journey through a region or country where the writer finds out something about him or herself in the course of their exploration or travels.
Italy has had its fair share of cookery books in the past and some have become bibles in their own right; think Elizabeth David’s Italian Food, Patience Grey’s Honey from a Weed and the River Café Italian Kitchen.
One book, however, that appeared a couple of years back is Two Greedy Italians by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo who are both well respected chefs and commentators on their native Italian cuisine. I often turn to this book as it cuts to the chase and the authors are keen to explore all aspect of the Italian culinary tradition. It doesn’t compare to others in terms of being comprehensive but lots of the dishes are easy and excellent for an Italian quick fix.
His recipe book is practical, joyful, uncomplicated and contextualises so much of what we understand about Italian food. There is a simple honesty about this collection of recipes and comments. The photography underscores the everyday, home style feel of the book and gives the reader an opportunity to explore regional dishes which really make the best of what is on offer whatever the season.
Of course, on the other hand you could take a cookery book as inspiration, eschew the printed word and head off into the Tuscan countryside. There you can try out some cooking of your very own on a cooking holiday in Italy where theory is translated seamlessly to joyful practise and new friendships and kindred spirits indulge in their passion for Italian food tradition. We all know we learn best when learning to do something practically and getting out hands dirty, or floury, as the case may be.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one reason. In 2013 Flavours have a number of cooking holidays in different regions of the country so click here to discover some options. If you are smart you will fill your Kindle with Italian cookery books and pack that too, so you can do some homework!