by Biba Caggiano (Author)
It’s been more than 40 years since Biba Caggiano came to America from her home in northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, and she still yearns for the luscious food that has earned the region a coveted spot on the culinary map. Long an accomplished author, television cooking-show host, and restaurateur, Caggiano still finds a constant source of inspiration in the cooking of her homeland–from the rich stuffed pasta dishes and complex ragus of Emilia to the simple grilled fish dishes and lusty brodettos (seafood stews) of Romagna.
Biba’s Taste of Italy is a fascinating culinary tour of Caggiano’s beloved region. In chapters on every course from antipasti to dolci, Caggiano introduces readers to the succulent dishes of the area and paints a vivid portrait of both the food and the people. Her salty-sweet Eggplant Parmigiano stars the region’s own Parma ham and Bolognese sausage; Seafood Risotto recalls the irresistible bounty of the Adriatic sea that laps the shores of Romagna; and the trademark of Emilia-Romagna cooking–stuffed pasta–appears frequently in dishes like Squash Ravioli with Squab Ragu and Balsamic Vinegar and Cannelloni with Meat Stuffing. In the spirit of the region’s small villages, Caggiano offers recipes for unassuming dishes like Roasted, Marinated, and Skewered Eel, in which the delicately sweet flavor of this unusual fish is expertly balanced with the simple yet robust flavors of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, fresh sage, and pancetta. Roasted Stuffed Breast of Veal is a truly classic Emilian dish, and Caggiano’s version–stuffed with a mixture of sautéed vegetables, Parmigiano, nutmeg, and eggs, then roasted golden brown with a crisp crust–is among the most delectable. Desserts run the gamut from the light, delicious Chestnut-Ricotta Fritters to the dense, sweet Honey-Walnut-Raisin Pie to a refreshing Strawberry Gelato. The clear, easy-to-follow instructions accompanying each recipe make the book a joy to cook from and the beautiful page design makes it a pleasure to peruse. A brief chapter on the wines of the region and another on Where to Eat in Emilia-Romagna make the book complete.