by Lidia Bastianich (Author)
Lidia Bastianich moved to the United States in 1959 from Trieste in northern Italy. She was 12 years old. Her actual home was over the line, in what became Yugoslavia after World War II. So food, for Bastianich, was both what made her family different from everyone they lived around in their new home in New York State and the anchor that held her family together. Bastianich calls this visceral sense of food “Lidia’s Italian Table.” It’s the name of her PBS series and of this book, which accompanies the series.
In sections that include antipasti, soups, pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta, vegetables, game and chicken, meats, fish and shellfish, and sweets, Lidia sweeps readers up into her arms and hugs them with the likes of Baked Onions with Butternut Squash Filling; Sauerkraut and Bean Soup; Bow Ties with Sausage and Leek Sauce; Shrimp Risotto; Fennel, Olive, and Citrus Salad; Braised Venison with Polenta; Baked Squid and Potatoes; and Zucchini Cake. Notice how most of these dishes have a familiar “Italian” ring, yet stretch beyond whatever that notion typically includes–the soup with sauerkraut, for example. Lidia’s table is set in a part of Italy that doesn’t get a lot of ready play. It’s Italian, but then some. A little extra. If you try it, you may find it difficult to get up from Lidia’s table. You may just want to stay.