In 1990 Claudia Roden published The Food of Italy, a book based on her articles in the Sunday Times. She researched Italian cuisine for over a year, traveling throughout the country, visiting cities and villages, talking to people and enjoying their way of preparing food.
If you open The Food of Italy, you will notice that the table of contents is very much a list of regions. Every chapter begins with an introduction that helps you understand the region. For instance, when she writes about Lombardy, she writes about themes like economy, the countryside (Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como), the cuisine, the renaissance, its main products (rice), meat (Lombardy is known for its pigs), cities (Milan being its main city) and of course its wine (sparkling wine from Franciacorta). After having read the introduction, you will have a much better understanding of the dishes from that region.
Traditional and Local
The book is about traditional local food. When she was once asked why she would write such a book when all the world is changing and cooking is becoming more global and becoming the same all over the world, she answered “What appeals and fascinates and touches the heart is that what distinguishes Italy, which recalls her past and is part of the prestigious heritage and traditions.” We couldn’t agree more!
We prepared a dish from Lombardy, a simple and very tasty combination of Quail, Shallot, Sage, Butter, Oil and (dry) Marsala. It is served with Risotto. In one of our next posts we will describe the dish in more detail.
The Food of Italy is available via your local bookshop or the usual channels for something like 20 euro or US dollar (paperback). A beautifully illustrated hardcover is also available. Other publications by Claudia Roden include books on Mediterranean Food (thus paving the way for chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi), on the joy of Outdoor Eating, on Picnics, Coffee and Spanish Food.
Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily. Perhaps you know it as something sold in small bottles, especially for cooking purposes. Never buy this nasty product. It has nothing to do with Marsala. Same story for the small ‘Madeira’ bottles. It’s a bit of a challenge but try to buy dry Marsala for this dish and next time you’re making Tiramisu, use sweet Marsala.