To capture the entire sense of a place between the covers of one cookbook is no small task. Yet, here is a photo of bobbing fishing boats that feels so close that I can practically smell the salt water. And a woman making fresh couscous that I want to scoop with my hands, and a basket of silvery fresh-caught anchovies for dinner, and spirals of yellow pasta, and...and...and. Sicily is one of those cookbooks that transports and inspires. If Sicily holds a special place in your traveler's heart, this is a book you will cherish. If visiting Sicily is dream of yours, this book might just transform your "some day" into "right now."
• Who wrote it: The Editors of Phaidon Press
• Who published it: Phaidon Press
• Number of recipes: Over 50
• Recipes for right now: Tuna with Potatoes and Honey Sauce, Messina-Style Swordfish Rolls, Coffee Granita, Stuffed Eggplant Slices, Pasta Wheels with Sausage Sauce, Fennel Sausages with Oranges and Bread, Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovies
• Other highlights: I am one of those "Sicily, some day" dreamers. I have admired this small island with its confluence of culinary cultures for years. Sicily is naturally home to a wide diversity of ingredients: capers, eggplants, wild bay leaf, almonds, prickly pears, pomegranates, and seafood. So much fantastic food from the sea. Sicily has also felt the touch of many different countries and governments over the centuries, which is why you find both couscous and orange blossom confections alongside pizzas and icy granitas
Sicily explores the foods of the island one region at a time and one ingredient at a time. It becomes a map of tastes and aromas: capers from Trapani, pulses from Palermo, sardines from Agrigento, and so on through all the province of Sicily. The stories of each place and the descriptions of what is grown and eaten there are as central to this book as the recipes. The editors of Phaidon call this a "cookbook and travelogue," and I think that description is spot on!
This is a book to learn from and to be inspired by. The photos leap off the page and give a real sense of the landscape and cultures of Sicily. I love learning about each region one ingredient at a time and then seeing those ingredients transformed into dishes on the dinner table.
• Who would enjoy this book? Cooks who love Italian cuisine and people who love to travel.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Sicily from Phaidon Press
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(Images: Emma Christensen)