Lifestyle Book Reviews
The Mediterranean Prescription by Angelo Acquista, M.D.Ballantine, April, 2006
Hardcover, 420 pages
Dr. Angelo Acquista has taken the regime that he has used to help his own patients lose weight and get healthy and turned it into a wonderful cookbook which features Mediterranean cooking. After a two-week starter plan, the diet then expands the foods one can eat. The diet includes lots of fish, vegetables, whole grains, pasta and -- of course -- olive oil. Dr. Acquista includes recipes from his own mother, as well as those from famous chefs in Italy. With a preference for whole grains over white starches, lots of vegetables, fruit and fish, the diet is perfectly heart-healthy. As a bonus, one never feels hungry. Menu plans, a chatty style, weight loss anecdotes, as well as delicious recipes such as Broiled Portobello Mushrooms, Spaghetti with Shrimp and Cognac Sauce, Pasta Fagioli, Broiled Lobster, and Poached Pears in Chianti make this a winning lifestyle cookbook for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and hit the kitchen.
A Taste of Southern Italy by Marlena De BlasiBallantine, May, 2006
Hardcover, 268 pages
Chef, author and restaurant critic Marlena De Blasi tells the story of how she became interested in cooking and food: when she was nine years old she came upon an elderly woman on the beach in southern Italy roasting potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. Since then, she has always been interested in food, cooking and the emotional connections that food has to people and memories. In A Taste of Southern Italy, de Blasi examines the cuisine and culture of Southern Italy. As much a tour of southern Italy as a cookbook, the book is filled with practical everyday recipes as well as interesting anecdotes. One of the reasons she says she wrote the book was to dispel the myth that the cooking of southern Italy was all thick red sauces, heavy on the garlic. And dispel it she does with interesting and delicious recipes from eight southern regions of Italy.
The cookbooks is arranged by region, beginning with Lazio (which includes Rome) and ending with Sicilia (Sicily). She presents selected recipes from each region, from appetizers to desserts. The Romans are much fonder of organ meats than Americans are, and de Blasi has left many of the more unpalatable dishes out of this book, although the Roman section does include a recipe for tripe, which most American readers will want to skip. But the tripe is more than made up for by the wonderful Prawns Braised in White Wine and Cognac, Artichokes in the Style of Rome, Gnocchi di Castagne con Porcini Trifolati (Chestnut Flour Gnocchi With Wild Mushroom Sauce) and Gelato de Gragole di Nemi (Gelato of Wood Strawberries With Basil, Honey and Pepper). Leg of lamb, numerous interesting pasta dishes, tasty seafood recipes and fruit-based desserts are also well-represented. This is a cookbook that you'll read once for the story and then refer to again and again, whenever you have that urge for a taste of southern Italian cooking.
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