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Cucina Del Sole: A Celebration Of Southern Italian Cooking

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464 Pages
William Morrow
Pub. Date:
Jun 08, 2007
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Cucina del Sole—the cuisine of the sun—is an apt title for a book that goes deep into southern Italy, a region little known to Americans, though many of us trace our roots back to this very soil and to these vibrant kitchens. Nancy Harmon Jenkins has been exploring the foods of Italy for more than thirty years. Now she takes us on a joyful voyage through one of her best-loved regions: the Mezzogiorno, the South—Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia, and Campania—to discover its varied cuisines. From restaurants with Michelin stars to old-fashioned trattorie and osterie, from city streets to country villages, Jenkins has sought out the best and most authentic so that you can reproduce this bounty at home.

This is a land of incomparably delicious food, full of flavor and interest, drawing on the flourishing Mediterranean trinity of wheat, vines, and olives, adding to it a harvest of fruits and vegetables, legumes and greens, that thrive in this sun-blessed climate, enhanced with an indispensable yield from the abundance of the seas and the flocks in the mountains. These iconic foods of the South include robust olive oils, often infused with the crushed zest of local citrus, aged wine vinegars, handmade durum-wheat pastas of ancient tradition, and uniquely flavorful pasta sauces, rich with an array of meats and tomatoes or simple and humble with garlic, olive oil, anchovies, a scattering of bread crumbs, and local caciocavallo cheese. Included are recipes for antipasti, soups and minestre, pasta and pasta sauces, beans and rice, main-course fish and meat dishes, a plethora of vegetables and salads, and an all-embracing chapter on breads, pizze, focacce, and pies.

Cucina del Sole also brings us the people and places connected with these savory recipes. Jenkins takes us through a bustling fish market in Catania, to an olive mill in Castelvetrano at the height of the harvest, and to a time-honored Neapolitan pizzeria, where the line of customers stretches down the street. We meet a young tomato grower on the plains below Vesuvius, a group of bakers who rise before dawn to shape traditional breads from antique grains, shepherd cheesemakers who follow age-old techniques, and pastry chefs who work the miracle of pasta reale marzipan, forming it into astonishingly lifelike fruits.

For modern American cooks and diners, la cucina del sole is the kind of food we want to eat right now—the bold simplicity of easy, straightforward techniques and natural ingredients effortlessly combined. Additionally, this cuisine represents one of the world's most healthful ways of eating, as regularly proven by scientific research into the traditional Mediterranean diet—there's no finer example than right here in Italy's South.

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