Published by National Geographic ISBN 9781426219740
Hardcover, $40, 383 pages
National Geographic and America's Test Kitchen have teamed up for a beautiful coffee table book, Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey. Combining what they both do best, they take the reader on a journey through Italy, using the food of Italy as the basis.
America's Test Kitchen's Chief Culinary Officer Jack Bishop explains in his introduction how the differing climates of Northern and Southern Italy influenced the way that people in these regions ate. Traditionally pasta is a staple in the south, whereas corn polenta is the staple in the north. Olive oil is used more in the south, butter and cream more in the north.
The book is divided into three main regions- Northern, Central and Southern. The North is bordered by Switzerland, France and Austria and so their food is heavily influenced by those countries. It is surrounded by mountains, and therefore has a cooler climate. Fontina cheese and Nutella are among the most famous products made here.
The book is filled with gorgeous photographs of the region, as well as 100 recipes that the reader can try at home. Savoy Cabbage Soup with Ham, Rye Bread and Fontina and Spaghettini with Shrimp are two recipes from Northern Italy calling to me.
Central Italy, home to Florence, Rome and the Tuscany wine region, is probably what most people think of when they think of Italy. We took a trip to Florence this past summer, so I was most familiar with this section of the book, and I enjoyed reliving some of the best meals we have we have ever had by reading this.
Proscuitto wrapped in melon, figs, bistecca (steak), porchetta (pork) and the luscious Chianti wines can be found here in glorious abundance. The Hunter's Chicken recipe will find a place on my table soon.
Southern Italy has the hottest temperatures in all of Italy. The pace of life is a little slower here and you'll find tomatoes, eggplants and lots of fish (anchovies, sardines, cuttlefish and octopuses) and not as much meat. The recipe for Eggplant Parmesan looks incredible.
Tasting Italy- A Culinary Journey is a wonderful book to give as a gift to anyone who has traveled to Italy, and with the holidays coming up it's the perfect time. National Geographic covers the fascinating history of the different regions, and America's Test Kitchen perfectly pairs their best authentic Italian recipes with the history. Even armchair travelers will be entranced by this beautiful book.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Tasting Italy's tour. The rest of the stops can be found here: