My husband and I are preparing to go on a trip to Italy at the end of August, so this month I am reading books all about Italy- some travel guides, some fiction set in Italy, some memoirs and some cookbooks.
A few years ago, I reviewed Matt Goulding's Grape Olive Pig in preparation for our trip to Spain, and I really enjoyed his exploration of Spain through its food culture. Now I'm reading Pasta Pane Vino before our trip to Italy. Each chapter is devoted to a different section of Italy, with much emphasis on the nonnas (grandmas) who share their stories. Goulding also gives you a guide of what to eat where- if you like cacio de pepe, go to Felice a Testaccio in Rome. This one will have a lot of post-it notes in it.
Speaking of nonnas, Rossella Rago's Cooking With Nonna- A Year of Italian Holidays shares recipes for each holiday from various nonnas, many of whom have been on Rossella's popular web TV series. The book is filled with gorgeous photos of the food, and what could be better than having an entire cookbook filled with tried-and-true nonna recipes? From the simple "Spaghetti in Wine Sauce" for Valentine's Day dinner to the more labor intensive "Little Hats Filled with Cheese and Mortadella in Broth" there is something here for every skill level.
Another family-oriented cookbook is Adriana Trigiani and Mary Yolanda Trigiani's Cooking With My Sisters-One Hundred Years of Family Recipes from Italy to Big Stone Gap. I enjoy cookbooks that tell a story, and the sisters have filled this gem with family photos and stories in addition to recipes. You'll feel like you are at a family reunion as you read this delightful book. I've had "Ida's Easy Artichoke and Chicken Casserole" and it is a keeper.
Lastly, I'm in the middle of Frances Mayes' See You in the Piazza. Mayes, who authored Under the Tuscan Sun, takes the reader on a journey through small towns in Italy, sharing the best out-of-the-way restaurants, shopping, and places to stay. She also has recipes in here if you are daring enough to try and replicate some of the great chef's dishes. This one is perfect for anyone who wants to be adventurous on a trip through Italy.