If you have ever dreamed of spending a summer in Italy, living and eating with a local family, learning the language, then Mark Leslie's book Beyond the Pasta will be a pure wish-fulfillment read for you. And now you can get even closer, with his iPad app, which brings you recipes, narrative, and video from right inside Nonna's kitchen!
Leslie is a food writer and theatre professional. (We featured his stunningly beautiful kitchen here.) He spent a summer in Italy with a family presided over by "Nonna," (grandma, in Italian) a wicked good cook and now his cooking mentor. His lovely and lively memoir, Beyond the Pasta, tells of falling in love with the food and culture of Italy, but also of the more personal relationship he developed with Nonna and her family.
• Find the book: Beyond The Pasta; Recipes, Language and Life with an Italian Family, $24.82 at Amazon
• Visit Mark's blog: Beyond the Pasta Blog
The book is a fun read, but I am enjoying his iPad app even more right now. He developed an app with a lot of video commentary, filmed in his own kitchen, and with many recipes he learned in Italy. The real highlight, though, are the video clips with Nonna herself. Watch a real Italian grandmother roll out pasta, and chatter with Mark in Italian — these clips are very funny and a real delight to watch.
If you love the sights, sounds, and tastes of Italy, this is a fun app to cook with, and to cook through.
• Find it: Beyond the Pasta app for iPhone and iPad. $2.99 at iTunes.
It is a lot of fun, although my only request is: More videos of Nonna, please!
(Images: Mark Leslie/Beyond the Pasta)