Cookbook Review: Ciao Italia Family Classics
Although the recipes are indeed terrific, this is a book to be read as much as cooked from. Ms. Esposito begins with an essay about how she learned to cook, telling us with authenticity and compelling sentiment about the kitchen legacy she received from her grandmothers and mother. In a message for today's cooks -- both practiced and new -- she makes a convincing case for how cooking continues to be the means to getting families (back) to the dinner table and what we stand to gain if we do.
The recipes are interspersed with sidebars and short essays about ingredients, which when taken together can help the home cook more fully appreciate why Italian cuisine is so special. There is information about balsamic vinegar (the real stuff, not the caramel-sweetened imitations so often sold in our markets), how meatballs became Italian, eating fish on Fridays and on Christmas Eve, Italian rice, and a personal and food-connected account of her first visit to Naples. Taken together, these essays serve as windows into Italy's enviable food culture and Ms. Esposito's own kitchen.