Holiday Cookbook Roundup

Gift Guide

Holiday Cookbook Roundup

Cucina del Sole: A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking

by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
William Morrow, 464 pp., $29.95

I love reading cookbooks, and my growing collection includes lots of regional cuisines. Italian is one of my favorites, but so far I had not encountered a cookbook so engaging and informative on Southern Italy as Cucina del Sole. This collection of 200 recipes from Sic­ily, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia, and Campania – known collectively as the Mezzogiorno – showcases beautifully their vibrant and varied cuisine. And although most Italian-American cooking derives from the influx of Southern Italian immigrants, that region's authentic cuisine has not received enough attention in print.

The book starts with a comprehensive introduction, followed by chapters on breads, pizza, and calzone; antipasti; first courses; main courses; vegetables and salads; and a brief chapter on desserts. With poverty an everyday reality in Southern Italy, the cuisine relies on inexpensive ingredients like beans and legumes, and the book provides several versions of pancotto (literally "cooked bread"), a hearty soup made using leftover bread and various ingredients. Vegetable stews and fresh seafood prevail (thanks to the region's location surrounded by the sea), while meat is used less frequently. Regardless, the recipes are unique and mouthwatering, and I can't wait to get my hands on things like sea bass in crazy water, black spaghetti with squid ink, and Sicilian seafood stew. Although most recipes are easy to prepare, Jenkins warns that some ingredients may be irreplaceable and difficult to find in the U.S. This delightful book is dotted with ingredient notes, anecdotes, and traveler's advice to complete its transporting effect. If you can't afford a plane ticket to Italy, this book should do for the time being.

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, August 22, at midnight. Vote now at vote.austinchronicle.com.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Claudia Alarcón
Savory Characters
Savory Characters
Cooking up the next generation of cocktails

Feb. 6, 2015

Calling the Shots
Calling the Shots
The women defining Austin's cocktail culture

Jan. 23, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Cucina Del Sole: A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking, Nancy Harmon Jenkins

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle