Jamie's Italy

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Bestselling author Jamie Oliver finally devotes an entire book to America's favorite cuisine -- Italian! Italy and its wonderful flavors have always had a major influence on Jamie Oliver’s food and cooking. In Jamie’s Italy, he travels this famously gastronomic country paying homage to the classic dishes of each region and searching for new ideas to bring home. The result is a sensational collection of Italian recipes, old and new, that will ensure that Italy’s influence reaches us all. Italy has inspired Jamie Oliver throughout his career. His ambition has always been to travel across the country on a quest to capture the very essence of Italian cooking -- and to produce the best and simplest Italian cookbook for everybody anywhere to enjoy. Jamie’s Italy is the result of that journey -- and it’s a land of plenty. As well as providing more than 120 brand-new recipes for everything from risotto to roasts and spaghetti to stews, structured as traditional trattoria menus, Jamie takes you all over Italy to cook with and learn from the real masters of Italian cuisine: the locals. Far from the standard "lemons and olives" version of Italian cooking, Jamie’s Italy is a cookbook by the people for the people. From Sicily to Tuscany, it’s about the local fishermen, family bakers, and, of course, the "Mamas," sharing their recipes and the tips that have gone into their cooking for generations. But it’s not only mouthwatering food that Jamie brings back home: it’s also the spirit that makes cooking and eating absolutely central to family life, whichever part of Italy you’re in. Bursting with the warmth and hospitality of real family life, this is both a superbly accessible cookbook and a unique travelogue and diary, in which you’ll find the authentic flavor of Italy and the people who live there. If you love quality food prepared with genuine passion -- you’ll never want to leave Jamie’s Italy.


Jamie Oliver
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Jamie's Italy is a good cookbook in many regards, and I like it a lot. But before I give it the accolades that it deserves, I first have to say what I didn't like about it, and this is sort of a sweeping judgment because it's not specifically about this book but more so about celebrity chef-written books in general. The problem that I have is enduring the usually hokey and pseudo-spontaneous (i.e., most likely staged) photos of the chef that occur far too frequently throughout the book. Case in point: before arriving at page 1 in Jamie's Italy you'll have to tolerate Jamie eating pasta with his foot and beer glass perched casually atop the rear of a stylish Fiat, Jamie with notebook in hand staring smugly into the camera outside what looks to be a back alley food stall, Jamie sipping liqueur with a woman and her dog outside, Jamie outside his retro Volkswagen van in the Italian countryside, and Jamie looking really cool eating pizza out of a paper wrapper while leaning against a wall. It wouldn't bother me so much, I guess, if they were instructional photos showing him preparing some of the recipes, but most are not. They are there, apparently, just so we can get a good look at Jamie.

Now that this is off my chest, I'll move on with the better stuff. The photographs are credited to David Loftus and Chris Terry, and in regards to the photos of the food they can be summed up in a word as spectacular they will without doubt make your mouth water. And photos that include people really capture the character of the scene.

Chapters are divided somewhat traditionally in a progressive manner. The one that I particularly found interesting was the chapter on Street Food and Pizza. There are some great ideas for unique and traditional pizza recipes (including photos of each) that can easily be reproduced in the home kitchen. And many of the recipes are ones you'll not likely find in other cookbooks, such as the recipe for “the best tuna meatballs (pg. 203)†which was delicious, or the recipe for Fried Ricotta with a little Tomato Salad (pg. 12).

There's a lot of non-recipe text in this book, which makes it an interesting read as well as a utilitarian book. The recipes themselves are written in the same conversational way as the text. While some may find this problematic, or even annoying, I personally find it a breath of fresh air from the often choppy, abbreviated, and textbook-style writing that is found in many cookbooks. Jamie credits the late Elizabeth David (among others) for instilling in him his love of Italian food. She apparently instilled his love of her writing style as well, albeit a slightly more modern form.

The recipes that I tried were easy to fallow and turned out as delicious as they were described and pictured. Jamie's Italy is a welcome addition to my cookbook library. His countless portraits seem to bother me less and less the more I leaf through it, and he does genuinely look like he's have a great time.

Fried Ricotta with a little Tomato Salad

Fennel Risotto with Ricotta and Dried Chilli


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