When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why?
Why I've kept it: Some books are meant for cooking, and others for cuddling. Venice & Food, which I purchased in Italy on my first visit to Venice, is a cuddling book. Hand-written and illustrated, this book is almost too gorgeous to use, too precious to disturb by ruffling its pages. If you have ever had the good fortune to visit Venice, you will no doubt have found a favorite square, a favorite sotoportego, a favorite ponte over a favorite canal, and perhaps a favorite wine bar or restaurant. And you will have fallen in love with the history, the art, and the food.
Here's an example of why I will always keep this book:
"Today many rice dishes in Venice are served with freshly grated PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, or Parmesan cheese. This is not traditional since in the past this cheese was a luxury, if available at all. In fact, it was so precious that it was worthy of being offered in homage to foreign rulers, as the Venetian Republic did to the Grand Vizier of Constantinople during the intermittent periods of peace between them. Thanks to the greatly improved standard of living that the Veneto now enjoys, this expensive cheese has become quite common here. It is never served with dishes containing fish except BACALA ALLA VICENTINA and requesting it for such would be met with surprise and perhaps dismay."
So charming, so informative. Yes, there are recipes for the traditional foods of the Veneto, along with the history of the recipe and the ingredients. However, this book is a work of art as much as anything, and worthy of a place on your cookbook shelf if you are at all interested in Italian cooking.
Bookmarked, to try next: Authentic versions of risotto di pesce (rice with seafood) and melanzane al funghetto (sautéd eggplant skins).
Do you have Venice & Food on your cookbook shelf?
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