La Bella Cucina: How to Cook, Eat, and Live Like an Italian


In La Bella Cucina, Viana La Place instructs us to look to Italy to discover how to live the good life–la bella vita. She paints a picture of generations gathered together around a table abundant with bowls of pasta, bright platters of vegetables, glistening olives, ripe fruit, and crusty peasant bread. The image poses a sharp contrast to American society, where most of us rush along spending many hours at work and the rest isolated in suburban homes or city apartments. La Bella Cucina is not just a cookbook, but a guide on how to live la bella vita no matter where you call home. La Place–celebrated author of several Italian cookbooks, including Cucina Rustica and Verdura–details not only the essence of true Italian cooking but also the way of life so profoundly connected to it. She even includes a blueprint for eating like an Italian–from a breakfast of espresso and biscotti to pranzo, the hearty Italian lunch, to cena, the late, light dinner typical in Italian households. In keeping with the traditions of true Italian cooking, La Place relies on simple, earthy ingredients to create evocative recipes that are at once rich in flavor and simple to prepare. Her soulful recipes like Summer Barley, Tomato, and Basil Soup; Dried Fava Bean Purée with Leeks and Bitter Greens; Sunday Meat Sauce; Spaghetti with a Mountain of Tiny Clams; and Roast Pork with Wild Fennel are more than sufficient for feeding the good life.