Kostioukovitch, Elena. Why Italians Love to Talk About Food. Translated by Anne Milano Appel. Forewords by Umberto Ecco and Carol Field. Farrar. $35. ISBN 978-0-374-28994-2.

Described as “a journey through Italy’s great regional cuisines,” this unique book on food and culture has already become a best-seller in Italy and Russia. Kostioukovitch, a Martha Stewart look-alike with considerable literary chops, is a literary agent and renowned translator of the likes of Umberto Ecco. But why should any self-respecting American foodie bother with a 450-page book about Italian food without a single recipe in it? Because this is at once superb expository writing and brilliant gastronomy. In contrast to the red sauce, white tablecloth specialties of 21st-century Italian-American cookery, contemporary Italian cuisine is as diverse as the agricultural products and the artisanal specialties of each area. Part travelogue, part culinary history, this is a book of fascinating “stories about symbolic foods of each Italian region” and their seemingly infinite micro-cuisines. One can start reading almost anywhere in this astonishing book—only to discover your next Italian vacation spot, perhaps? In any case, don’t miss the essential sections on cooking methods, sauces, and the often mysterious (for non-Italian cooks) dos and don’ts of pasta pairings—the right shapes for the right sauce. Abundantly illustrated and handsomely designed with a strong sewn binding that rivals those of the best keepsake cookbooks, this is a new culinary classic.

Share this: