by Nancy Verde Barr
Barr, who cooked alongside Julia Child and authored We Called It Macaroni, shares her nonna’s wisdom in a book organized by traditional Italian courses. Adjusting for Americans, Barr portions pasta and soup as whole meals. She provides extensive information on everything from shopping and tools to terminology to how to make scaloppine. The strength is in her unique approach to the recipes: instead of a rigid prescription, ingredients are categorized yet flexible. For example, ingredients for Spicy Bay Scallops with Capers and Lemon are under headings for the fish, the aromatic, the deglazing liquid, and the finish. There are four variations on this recipe alone. The soup section is especially strong, with a table on how to create your own and examples such as Fennel Soup with Ham and Soup with Porcini and Cornmeal. Barr provides just enough guidance, writing, for Nonna’s Chicken with Garlic and Rosemary: “Don’t be alarmed by the large amount of garlic” because it will sweeten. Recipes are traditional Southern (her family is from Ischia) with some surprises (e.g., Roasted Monkfish with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Sweet-and-Sour Lamb Stew from Apulia). The dessert section emphasizes puddings (Lemon “Cooked Cream” with Berries) and mix-and-match sauces (Chocolate-Espresso Sauce and Dried Tart-Cherry Sauce for puddings or ice creams). This book is worth having for anyone who loves Italian food.