An off-beat take on the Italian cookbook and Italian culture

Published by Michael A. Duvernois - 11-2009

Kostioukovitch is Umberto Eco's Russian language translator, and has lived in Italy for the past twenty years. This book is about half pensive reflection on topics of (presumably common Italian) conversation such as totalitarianism, "Joy," pilgrims, and America, and half discussions of the foods and wines of Italy as she takes an imaginary trip around the country. A lot of food is described, quite lovingly, but there aren't really any recipes. It's an odd book, a Russian writing about Italian food and food traditions for Italian readers and then the book is translated into English and brought to the States. I'm predicting wildly mixed reviews. It's a cookbook in the sense that MFK Fisher's books are cookbooks. It's a travelogue in the sense that Paul Theroux's books are. It's a fun, literate look at Italian food and conversations. But no recipes, and with her Russian background there's a suspicion of inauthenticity around the whole project. In 2006 Kostioukovitch published this work in Italian as "Perche agli Italiani piaci parlare del cibo." Since then it's been a bestseller in both Russia and Italy and the winner of both culinary and literary prizes in Italy.

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