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Food Culture Library

Sweet and Savoury Cakes and Pies in Traditional Regional Cuisine (forthcoming)

'Cake’ is a magic word, immediately reminiscent of sweet aromas and festive celebrations. However, the Italian term torta, encompassing a wider array of baked goods, is also a savoury dough shell which can contain vegetables, cheese or meat. This fifth volume of the Food Culture Library traverses Italy in search of recipes which still represent a rich and valuable tradition. There are many savoury pie fillings which use the finest local ingredients, but those in sweet pies are in no way inferior: inimitable specialities from the Neapolitan pastiera to the parrozzo from the Abruzzi to the Sicilian cassata. A cornucopia of fruit – blueberries, oranges, chestnuts, limoncella apples, almonds, hazelnuts – decorates or forms the bulk of celebratory sweets.

 


Flavours of the vegetable garden in traditional regional cuisine

The home vegetable garden has, especially in the past, constituted an important source of ingredients for preparing dishes associated with specific areas. This volume traverses Italy searching for, and sometimes rediscovering, the vegetables particular to each region, and even those fragrant plants which still grow wild in mountains and forests. Delectable soups made of leeks, nettles and cardoons; delicate peas for preparing the famous risi e bisi (rice and peas); small and flavoursome lentils, such as those found in Castelluccio. And what of the world-renowned red radicchio from Treviso? Or the kale (‘black cabbage’ or cavolo nero) which stars in the beloved Tuscan ribollita, or the celebrated Sicilian aubergine dishes? A volume for discovering the history and uses of ‘herbs’, legumes, bulbs, roots and vegetables, from these veritable outdoor pantries yielding many recipes to bring to the table.


 

The use of cheeses in traditional regional cuisine

Cheese is a ‘living’ product, changing over time and according to season and environment. It is never identical, but is to be rediscovered each time. The Italian art of cheese-making has produced and continues to produce hundreds of cheeses which are strongly associated with their places of origin. They can be enjoyed as is, or used in a wide variety of recipes, as demonstrated by the breadth covered by this volume. Today, considering the abundance of industrial products available, consumers must be ever more aware of the peculiarities of, and the differences between, artisanal cheeses. For these reasons, the ItalianAcademy of Cuisine has chosen to dedicate a volume to the culinary uses of this extraordinary food.

 
 

Sea and freshwater fish in traditional regional cuisine

Italy has thousands of kilometres of coastline and numerous lakes, rivers and streams providing excellent freshwater fish which often is no less delicious than sea fish. Not long ago, fish was overlooked, there was no ‘cold chain’ to distribute it safely refrigerated, and it was associated with ascetic ‘lean eating’. Now, however, it is frequently enjoyed in every season and it is therefore necessary to farm and import it. Our regional cuisine remains rich in recipes which make the most of our immense and varied bounty of sea and freshwater fish. This volume is dedicated to those sometimes forgotten traditional uses, with sea fish still being preponderant; and offers numerous tips for understanding and making the most of many traditions which were nearly lost.


 

Sauces and Gravies in Regional Cooking Tradition                      

Seventy recipes illustrate the colours and flavours of the various Italian regions, from North to South: this is a veritable regional mosaic through which we may rediscover the natural environment, history, traditions and customs, and linguistic traits of a community.