Flavors of Puglia

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9780553066753: Flavors of Puglia

Dazzling combinations of colorful, earthy vegetables.  Comforting soups with beans, grains, and fragrant herbs.  Simple seafood dishes prepared with fish and shellfish straight from the sea.  Pasta adorned with fresh, flavorful sauces.  Food that embraces the humble abundance of Puglia, from olive groves, wheatfields, vineyards, gardens, and the blue waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.  In this first-ever cookbook devoted to the foods of this bountiful region, located at the heel of the Italian boot, Nancy Harmon Jenkins combines her masterful knowledge of the Mediterranean with the recipes and traditions of Pugliese home cooks.

Featuring more than 100 recipes, for every course from the antipasti to dessert, Flavors of Puglia introduces American home cooks to the aromas and flavors of the cuisine of Puglia.  Taking a culinary tour of this remarkable region, Jenkins offers recipes for classic Pugliese dishes including tiedda, a casserole made with mussels, potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini; and orecchiette, Puglia's famous ear-shaped pasta, tossed with pungent broccoli rabe and dressed with a sprightly mix of oil, garlic, and red pepper.  Other recipes include panzerotti, deep-fried tarts filled with onion-olive stuffing or a spicy pork filling; stewed black olives served with chunks of country-style bread for sopping up herb-scented olive oil; calzone, a two-crusted pizza with olives, leeks, and a hint of anchovy; and fresh fish and shellfish served on their own, in casseroles, or seafood stews.

Jenkins offers graceful descriptions of Puglia's landscape and introduces readers to local fishermen, bakers, pastamakers, olive oil producers, and winemakers who produce the best food the region has to offer.  A detailed section for travelers offers restaurant and hotel suggestions and provides a list of dishes and food products that are specialties of the region.  A resource guide and extensive notes on choosing ingredients round out this splendid cookbook, which will win readers over to this charming and, as yet, undiscovered region of Italy.

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Review:

The realization that Italy is shaped like a boot is about as old a notion as footwear itself. But how often is the heel of that boot, the region called Puglia, ever considered? Rarely, to be sure. It's not just the glorious, far-reaching history of Puglia that begs to be explored, but also the living culture and the living foods. Nancy Harmon Jenkins, author of the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, has at least taken on the food of Puglia, and through that portal we catch glimpses of the country's people, culture, and history. For Jenkins is no mere cookbook author, and Flavors of Puglia is no bottomless sump of recipes cast willy-nilly upon the page. She brings a keen intellect to her work as well as a passion for food, people, and the connections that can be made at a well-laid table--connections unlike any others. She is an anthropologist of the human soul as revealed through food, and the recipes she selects push the reader into a much deeper understanding of the soul of Puglia than would otherwise be possible. And the bonus? The sheer simplicity and deliciousness of it all.

"The cuisine of Puglia was shaped by the cuisine of poverty," Jenkins reports. But the region is unusual for the way the poor and the wealthy eat the same dishes, the same foods; "the rich simply eat more," as Jenkins says. So the point of the food is to take a few ingredients--never a lot of meat--and maximize the flavors. The results, both heavenly and healthy, turn the cook back to the origins of good food and diet. Jenkins's great trick is that she can make you smell the dish prepared on the page and even see the ocean change color as the sun fades and night embraces the land.

From the Publisher:

"Puglia, home of my paternal grandparents, has always held a special place in my heart. With the opening paragraphs of Nancy Harmon Jenkins' introduction, I felt myself falling yet again under the spell of Puglia's charm. Nancy's painstaking research and delicious, authentic recipes have created a Puglia-primer for all of us to enjoy."
--Michael Romano, Union Square Café, New York

"Nancy Harmon Jenkins opens the windows onto a culinary world that's new to most of us--the kitchens and countryside of Puglia. What's so great about this book is her wonderful esthetic, backed up by her impeccable research: she knows exactly what she's talking about and she writes so well about this food that you can almost taste it."
--Alice Waters, author of Chez Panisse Vegetables

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