Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Italian Food and Why Italians Love It

Italians love to talk about food. The aroma of a simmering ragù, the bouquet of a local wine, the remembrance of a past meal: Italians discuss these details as naturally as we talk about politics or sports, and with the same passion. But why? And why in this culture, arguably more than any other?

Elena Kostioukovitch answers those questions in her book WHY ITALIANS LOVE TO TALK ABOUT FOOD (Ferrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2009, $30), an international best seller being published for the first time in English this fall. In this learned and charming narrative, Kostioukovitch takes us on a comprehensive journey through Italy’s major regions and introduces us to the food and culture of each. Along the way, she delves deep into the country’s history, exploring the literature and traditions that surround its most prized dishes. Inside readers will discover:
· Which popular dish emerged from the Milanese region and is considered the “center and fulcrum” of their cuisine
· Why pesto is more than a delicious sauce; it was actually invented as a very practical means to an end
· The fascinating tastes and eating habits of many Roman pontiffs and how the church has had a distinct influence on the food and culture of Rome
· How the autumnal hunt for the white truffles of Alba in Piedmont became the badge of gastronomical opulence for the area

Kostioukovitch also profiles the distinctive dishes of each region, such as Tuscan panzanella and the arancini of Lasio and Rome, as well as local products like olive oil from Lake Garda in Trentino Alto Adige and Umbria’s renowned barbozzo prosciutto (pork cheek).

Peppered throughout, readers will find chapters that discuss key ingredients in Italian cooking like pasta and risotto as well as chapters on politics and sex. The reader will come to realize that every part of Italy’s culture is uniquely connected to its culinary traditions and that to know Italian food is to discover the differences of taste, language, and attitude that separate a Sicilian from a Venetian or a Sardinian.

Organized according to region and colorfully designed with illustrations, maps, menus, and glossaries, WHY ITALIANS LOVE TO TALK ABOUT FOOD is sure to become the definitive book on Italian gastronomy. Food lovers, history buffs, and gourmands alike will savor this exceptional celebration of Italy’s culinary gifts.

Advance praise from:

· Jacques Pepin
· Heller Willinger
· Tom Colicchio
· Michael Romano
· Evan Kleiman

About the Author

Elena Kostioukovitch was born in Kiev in 1958, studied in Russia, and moved to Italy in 1988. She is an essayist, translator, and literary agent. Her 1988 translation of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose was a literary sensation in Russia and led to a longtime collaboration with Eco. Since 1988, she has been editor of the Russian series for Bompiani/RCS Publishers and, since 1996, of a series from Edizioni Frassinelli. She is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Welcome Prize (2006), given by the Russian National Association of Restaurateurs. In 2006 Kostioukovitch published the Italian version of this book, Perché agli italiani piace parlare del cibo. A bestseller in Italy, as it was in Russia, the book won the 2007 Bancarella della Cucina award and the
2007 Chiavari Literary Award. Elena Kostioukovitch lives with her husband and two children in Milan.

By Elena Kostioukovitch
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
September 2009
Hardcover Original/$30.00
ISBN: 978-0-374.28994-2

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