ITALIAN COOKBOOK MEMOIR
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Risotto with Nettles - A memoir with food
(Vintage Books) ISBN 978-0099505990 0099505991
Part Italian cookbook, part Italian food memoir, Risotto with Nettles features vivid descriptions of Italian foods and recipes for Italian cuisine that Anna Del Conte remembers from growing up in Italy. After she moved to England, she introduced the British to risottos, pastas and granitas through her Italian cookbooks and recipes.
Cooking Italian foods
This Anna Del Conte cookbook recounts her memories of recipes that use Italian foods, like Parmesan cheese, porcini mushrooms and Italian salame. For example, in her chapter on fungi and wild garlic, Anna Del Conte talks about picking mushrooms and creating recipes for them.
Each chapter of Risotto with Nettles features one or two Italian recipes, which begin with her cooking advice, e.g., dried porcini give a stronger flavor to her tagliatelle with mushrooms recipe.
Black and white photos depict Anna Del Conte in England and Italy, e.g., at an Italian cooking school in Tuscany.
The curdled mayonnaise and other disasters chapter of the 326-page Italian cookbook explains that culinary disasters that can occur even to an experienced Italian cook like Anna Del Conte. For example, she describes gnocchi dissolving in boiling water as she prepared them for the Prince and Princess Galletti di San Cataldo.
To prevent gnocchi from falling apart, she provides cooking advice from Pellegrino Artusi's cookbook: boil one gnocchi at a time and add flour or egg until they stay whole when boiled.
Sample Italian recipes
Quince cheese. Fried custard. Swiss chard torte. Fried veal chops Milanese style. Lasagne with pesto. Fig jam tart. Aberdeen sausage. Polenta biscuits. Baked tagliatelle with smoked salmon. Pancakes stuffed with ricotta. Crispy apple amber.
- Toscanini: Marrons glacés
- Via Gesu: Lemon granita
- Mamma and Maria: Gnocchi, ravioli et al
- Nice: My first bouillabaisse
- Stresa: Chicken consommé
- The Fascist Years: Mussolini and mussels
- Albinea: Grappa
- Machine Guns: Risotto with nettles
- Prison: Salame
- Liberation Day: An American feast
- After the War: Champagne and gin
- Molesey House: Puddings and pies
- Oliver: Lyons Corner House tomato soup
- Billing Road: Horse meat roll
- Holland Villas Road: Porcini, chanterelles
- Cornia: Hare in a sweet and sour sauce
- Barnes: Carbonara must be eaten hot
- Tokyo: Spaghetti with tomato sauce
- Gastronomy and Travels: Truffles with everything
- Showing and Telling: Bollito misto
- Venice: La colomba pasquale
- Peregrinations: Curdled mayonnaise and other disasters
- Dorset: Fungi and wild garlic
Anna Del Conte has published several Italian cooking books, including the Gastronomy of Italy and Good Housekeeping Italian Cookery.