Tobie Puttock is well-known for his passion for Italian cuisine but this time, he has really outdone himself. This is not just a cookbook, it is an Italian experience, one that is personal to Puttock.
The result of a six-week trip to immerse himself in the Italian way of life, beginning in Venice and heading south, Cook Like an Italian is as much a memento of his time in Italy as it is a cookbook.
And that in itself sums up Italy, does it not? Sharing not just food around the table, but stories and a passion for life.
Puttock introduces his latest book with his philosophy towards Italian food, explaining that although he puts his own twist on many of these traditional recipes, he also likes to stick with the basics. He says, “Italian cuisine is already perfect.”
But don’t expect another book filled with lasagne and pizza. This is much fresher than that.
Cook Like an Italian is broken into cities and towns, rather than courses, and each section contains entrees, mains and desserts (in an informal sense; the courses are not broken down as such).
First we have Venezia (Venice) and a feast fit for a king, filled with bruschetta, pasta and traditional ragu, followed by semifreddo. Next up is Ponte di Legno, a village tucked away in the Italian Alps (you might hear a sigh of longing from this reviewer at this point), with its soups, gnocchi, risotto and rosti.
Then comes Milano with lots of vegetables and cuts of meat, with a light sorbet or delicious chocolate truffles to finish. Parma gives us salads and desserts, Genoa seafood and an abundance of fresh produce, and Lucca its own style of gnocchi and range of meats.
Then we come to my personal favourite – Firenze (Florence). This city, in the picturesque region of Tuscany, is famous for its food and Puttock shares the best bits with us. Soups, pastas and salads abound, with beautifully modern and fresh desserts the finishing touch.
Onwards we go, to Panzano’s homemade sausages, Ascoli Piceno’s rabbit, boar and oxtail, Roma’s huge variety (if only we could reach in and grab some gelato to finish this off with), and finishing with a smorgasbord of fish in Napoli.
Each town has its own story, a series of Puttock experiences, which are shared with us along the way.
And, of course, there is the photography. Each section contains stunning photographs that are as much a feature of the book as the recipes themselves. Modern food styling and awe-inspiring shots of each town complete the experience that Puttock is sharing with us.
Luckily for many of us, practicalities have not been forgotten. Ingredients that are harder to source are explained or given alternatives for, and dietary requirements are also catered for.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel through Italy, or if you’re been and want to relive it all, this book will take you there. This is one stunning collection of recipes that will sit among the classics in your cookbook collection.
Title: Cook Like an Italian
Author: Tobie Puttock
Publication Date: 27 September 2010