Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
September 30, 2023
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An Italian Feast: Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo, a Culinary Vade Mecum...

A sequel to Clifford A. Wright's groundbreaking A Mediterranean Feast, which won the 2000 James Beard award for Cookbook of the Year and the James Beard award for the Best Writing on Food, An Italian Feast celebrates the cuisines of the Italian provinces from Como to Palermo. An illustrated culinary guide and vade mecum (book of ready reference) meant to be the most comprehensive book on Italian cuisine, it includes over 800 recipes from the 109 provinces of Italy's 20 regions.

An Italian Feast is a book about Italian food, how Italians cook, eat, and how their food is an intimate part of their culture, perhaps even a defining element of "Italianness." It is the first book-in any language-to comprehensively explore the gastronomy and cuisine not just of Italy, and not just the regions of Italy, but all 109 provinces of Italy, linking each with each other and their alimentary landscape in terms of history, agriculture, economics, and the material culture of creative food



One-Pot Wonders

A wonderous collection of the world's best one-pot dishes from slow-cooked stews to quick stir-fries to easy skillet dinners, the one-pot meal is a worldwide staple.  Across continents and cultures, everyone appreciates the simplicity and fuss-free nature of a meal made in one vessel--whether it's a wok, a pot, or a casserole dish.  Here you'll find 250 recipes from every corner of the globe, each one as easy as it is delicious.  With straightforward cooking techniques and easy cleanup, these recipes offer not only simple dinner solutions but real home cooking from places far and wide.



Red Macaroni: 20 Easy and Rustic Recipes for Tomatoes and Pasta

An eBook of 20 easy and rustic recipes combining pasta with tomatoes that goes beyond spaghetti and tomato sauce.  These rich, rustic, and delicious recipe are the real thing.



Green Macaroni: 25 Easy and Healthy Recipes for Vegetables and Pasta

An eBook of 25 easy and healthy recipes for combining pasta with vegetables that doesn't compromise on their delicious tastes.



Hot & Cheesy

The cookbook that will make cheese lovers melt!

On a pizza, in a casserole, sprinkled on top, or stuffed inside, melted cheese makes an ordinary meal into a decadent delight. It's a staple ingredient in plenty of our favorite comfort foods—from a gooey macaroni and cheese to a spicy quesadilla—but never before have so many hot and delicious cheese recipes been brought together in one place.

Clifford A. Wright's Hot & Cheesy offers more than 250 recipes covering fritters, pastries, casseroles, pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, breads, and almost anything else you could top, stuff, or sprinkle with cheese.

  • The book presents an exhaustive collection of cheesy comfort food recipes from around the world
  • Author Clifford A. Wright is the award-winning author of such cookbooks as Bake Until Bubbly, The Best Soups in the World, and A Mediterranean Feast
  • Like all of Wright's books, this title also includes historical and cultural notes on each recipe

From imported artisanals to the pride of Wisconsin, from gouda to gruyere, there's something in Hot & Cheesy for every cheese lover.



The Best Soups in the World

This newest book from James Beard Cookbook of the Year-award-winning author Clifford A. Wright is a perfect follow-up to his acclaimed casseroles cookbook, Bake Until Bubbly. Wright has gathered the best soup recipes from around the globe and adapted them for the contemporary kitchen. He explains the history and culture behind each recipe, which makes his books just as fascinating to read as they are great to cook from. Much like his casseroles book, soups is a perfect cookbook subject for these tough economic times -- heart-warming, satisfying food that can most often be prepared on a budget. Affordable cuts of meat are slow-simmered until rich and tender. And the book itself will be a great value, packed with 300 globe-trotting recipes such as Thai Mushroom and Chile Soup, Mexican Roasted Poblano and Three Cheese Soup, and Tuscan White Bean Soup, not to mention American classics like Cape Cod Clam Chowder,Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, and Split Grean Pea Soup. Sidebars delving deeper into the stories behind the recipes will appear throughout the book.



Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Book

Bake Until Bubbly . . . the name says it all. Visions of creamy, tender casseroles with crusty, crunchy tops immediately come to mind and Clifford Wright’s book delivers. You will find easy-to-make one dish recipes like the rustic but elegant Veal Saltimbocca and Cassoulet and comfort food such as Blue Cheese Halibut Bake; Sausage, Red Bean, and Apple Casserole; Cranberry-Apple-Walnut Crisp; and Blackberry and Cream Cheese Crepes Casserole. I love the fact that you can find everything from breakfast casseroles to vegetarian options to desserts. The Potato, Bacon and Gruyere Casserole is coming to my next potluck.”

—Dede Wilson, Contributing Editor to Bon Appétit magazine and public television host

“Just when I thought there was little left to be exploited in casserole cookery, Clifford Wright comes up with an herby tamale pie with cornmeal mush, an Irish rutabaga pudding, a baked rigatoni with meatballs, a nectarine and almond dessert casserole, and numerous other fascinating dishes guaranteed to add new and exciting dimension to this succulent style of cooking.”

—James Villas, author of Crazy for Casseroles and The Glory of Southern Cooking



Some Like It Hot: Spicy Favorites from the World’s Hot Zones

"Leave it to Clifford Wright to make even the hottest of foods so compelling that even a non-chile head such as myself is now convinced to refurbish an otherwise temperate cupboard. After all, who can resist a dish whose name translates to dog nose in Mayan (because it makes ones nose moist?), an intriguing Wicked Spaghetti, or our own New Mexican classic dish of potatoes and green chile? No one, I should hope!"
– Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating from Americas Farmers Markets

"Cliff is our GO TO guy whenever we need advice on a particularly intriguing recipe or ingredient. That's why we are thrilled to be holding his new HOT and hip collection of recipes that will guide you on a world tour guaranteed to blow your taste buds away!"
– Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger Chefs/Owners, Border Grill and Ciudad Restaurants

Bibliography for Some Like it Hot



Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d' Oeuvre, Meze, and More

"Small plates that are big on flavor are always in season at my house. This is another wonderful collection of Mediterranean recipes from Clifford Wright that will send me into the kitchen with pleasure. Wright strikes just the right note between scholarly and sensual."
–Joyce Goldstein, author of The Mediterranean Kitchen and Saffron Shores

"Clifford Wright proves again in this delectable volume that he is the dean of American authorities on Mediterranean cooking. The recipes are as valuable for their authenticity as for Wright’s fascinating notes that explain a rich, diverse food culture."
–John Mariani, author of The Italian-American Cookbook and The Dicitonary of Italian Food and Drink

"Clifford Wright has done it again! Not only does Little Foods of the Mediterranean provide hundreds of mouth-watering recipes, it also offers a lively history of their origins. Wright shares with us the centuries-old philosophy of eating that underlies these marvelous little foods, seasoning his text with spicy etymologies along with copious doses of Aleppo pepper and harisa."
– Darra Goldstein, Editor, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture

"The dishes in Clifford Wright’s Little Foods of the Mediterranean may be little, but theirs flavors are big. Wright understands these foods deeply, and reading through his recipes is like sitting, drink in hand, at a long table filled with meze, enjoying the conversation while we taste a bit of this, a bit of that. We’ll enjoy some of our favorite Mediterranean foods, but he has also unearthed many wonderful new dishes."
– Martha Rose Shulman, author of The Foodlover’s Atlas of the World

"This vast compendium encapsulates the type of Mediterranean food that I love: simple, tasty, unpretentious, and easy to eat. Whether they are tapas, meze, or antipasti, they represent Mediterranean street food at its best. I especially applaud Clifford Wright's great research into the similarities and the differences among the little foods of the eighteen countries of the Mediterranean basin,"
– Jacques Pepin, chef, cookbook author, and public television cooking show host



Real Stew: 300 Recipes for Authentic Home-Cooked Cassoulet, Gumbo, Chili, Curry, Minestrone, Bouillabaisse, Strogan

"To my way of eating nothing surpasses a stew, food cooked slowly in an intensely flavored liquid. This book tells it all and covers every corner of the globe. The recipes are non-compromising in their authenticity. Clifford tells it like it is and offers valuable tidbits of information on history, origins, and harder-to-find ingredients."
–Bruce Aidells, president/owner of Aidells Sausage Company and co-author The Complete Meat Cookbook

"Real Stew is an extraordinary cookbook! Clifford Wright has brought 300 classic one-pot meals from all around the world home to our kitchens. His stews are hearty and delicious– my whole family loves them, and your will too."
– Mark Strausman, chef/owner of Campagna restaurant and author of The Campagna Table

"Clifford Wright has put together 300 mouthwatering recipes that I want to try in the next week! This is exactly what I feel like eating right now."
– David Rosengarten, host of TV Food Network’s “In Food Today” and author of “Taste: One Palate’s Journey Through the World’s Greatest Dishes.”

"In "Real Stew," Clifford Wright takes you on a world culinary tour with mouthwatering and vibrant recipes that would take a lifetime to discover on your own."
– Bobby Flay, host of TV Food Network’s “FoodNation with Bobby Flay” and author of “Bobby Flay Cooks American.”



Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's ABC of Vegetables and Their Preparation in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey,

"There are so many interesting flavors and combinations here. Having had the honor of eating some of these dishes cooked by Cliff’s own hand, I know how good they really are. I can’t wait to cook them myself."
– Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and The Greens Cookbook

"Clifford Wright is the reigning English-speaking expert on the cuisines and culinary culture of the Mediterranean--the real Mediterranean, the whole Mediterranean--and his new book on the vegetables of the region is destined to become an invaluable volume."
– Colman Andrews, editor of Saveur and author of Catalan Cuisine

"Mediterranean Vegetables is a great reference book that will be invaluable to any chef’s library. I am especially glad to have it in mine."
– Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef and co-author of Simple to Spectacular

"Mediterranean Vegetables is a "must-have" book for anyone who cooks vegetables or thinks he should. To get a brief yet highly informative description of the vegetables and their traditional uses, along with delicious recipes for today’s cooking styles, makes eating them a joy. You immediately feel that you can cook these vegetables, and that you want to."
– Carlo Middione, author of Carlo Middione’s Traditional Pasta

"This well-researched book on vegetables is full of wonderful recipes from the cuisines of the world and is a great reference work."
– Jacques Pépin, host of Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine and co-author of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

"Once again, Clifford Wright has given us a book whose scholarship is only matched by its enticing recipes. Mediterranean Vegetables, a perfect companion to his renowned A Mediterranean Feast, will not only delight scholars, cooks, and chefs, but also gardeners. Who knows what we’ll begin to discover in our farmer’s markets once growers get hold of this book."
– Martha Rose Shulman, author of Mediterranean Light and The Best Vegetarian Recipes



A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of

"This book is an impressive original study of the cradle of food civilization and marks an important achievement in the field of culinary history."
– James Beard Foundation Book Awards Committee, May 2000

"The Saveur 100: a celebration of our favorite food, people, place, and things. Voted Most Delicious History Book You Can Cook From. “Food-in-context has never been more thoroughly (and more cookably) presented."
Saveur magazine, Jan./Feb. 2000

"Wright’s enthusiastic investigation of Mediterranean cuisines is a fine feast for readers interested in culture, history, and most of all, food."
Smithsonian Magazine, January 2000

"If there is a cookbook of the year, this is it. A remarkably ambitious work....The subject is vast, the scope of time daunting, but Wright comes across as a cheerful, dedicated scholar who was sorry when he had to stop. Recipes are written to be accessible to contemporary cooks."
–William Rice, Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1999

"I always felt it would take several lifetimes to research the many facets of Mediterranean cooking--history, languages, influences, the range of culinary resourcefulness and extravagance, and the varied tastes of fourteen countries. In his monumental work, Clifford Wright has made a huge contribution. An astonishing accomplishment."
– Paula Wolfert, author of The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean

"Clifford Wright has provided us with a new standard text that will find a place on bookshelves next to such works as Larousse Gastronomique, Escoffier, Braudel, and others. But more often the book will be found on the ktichen counter, because Clifford Wright is not only an impressive scholar but a great cook. All of the dishes here are authentic, with the true, robust flavors so seductive to the modern palate. I love the way the recipes are woven through the text, so that each dish has a historical and geographical context. This book is indispensable for anybody interested in Mediterranean food--or for that matter, anybody interested in history, the Mediterranean, and good food in general."
– Martha Rose Shulman, author of Mediterranean Light and Provençal Light



Italian Pure & Simple: Robust and Rustic Home Cooking for Everyday (New York: William Morrow, 1998)

Now everyone can cook the robust foods that we associate with Italian home cooking. The book offers 175 Italian-inspired recipes for the home cook who needs an easy way to put dinner on the table for his or her family everyday, but who does not want to sacrifice taste for time.



Grill Italian (New York: Macmillan, 1996)

One hundred classic Italian recipes for the grill. Illustrated lavishly with color photos and chock full of grilling tips.

"The recipes in Grill Italian are traditional, informative, and, most important, delicious. Cliff Wright brings together the best of Italy's flavors and easy techniques."
-- Bobby Flay, author of Bobby Flay's Bold American Food, chef and owner of Mesa Grill and Bolo



Lasagne (Boston: Little, Brown, 1995)

Can there be more than one way to make lasagne? There sure is in this book of 75 classic Italian regional lasagne recipes. Many luscious recipes are preceded with some history of lasagne and detailed instructions on making your own lasagne dough.

"The recipes are clearly delectable..."Lasagne" is really quite a treasure."
-- Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and The Savory Way



Cucina Rapida: Quick Italian Style Home Cooking (New York: William Morrow Co., 1994)

More than 150 recipes of Italian-inspired cooking for families that don't have all the time in the world to spend in the kitchen, but who want their Italian food as exciting as they remember it from their last visit to Italy or their local Italian trattoria. Many recipes are geared for children, too.



Cucina Paradiso: The Heavenly Food of Sicily (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992)

More than 175 luscious recipes reflecting the rich Arab heritage of Sicilian Cuisine.

"Cucina Paradiso is a wonderfully insightful and refreshingly personal exploration of one of the world's most exciting cuisines--full of rich colorful, and highly seasoned dishes unlike any other in Italian food you know. The book is also full of fascinating history. Food is the prism through which Clifford Wright views Sicily and Sicilian culture."
--Paula Wolfert, author of Mediterranean Greens and Grains, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, and other books.



Paula Wolfert, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco

When Paula Wolfert published her Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco in 1973, there hadn’t been anything like it before. Hers was the seminal book that convinced people that cuisine had a history and an anthropology and she did it with one of the great cuisines of the world. At that time nothing was known in America about couscous or Moroccan food.

Wolfert painstakingly tried to reproduce the authentic flavors of Morocco. She succeeded. She introduced the ten most important spices used in Moroccan cooking, a cuisine notable both for its use of spices and its sweetness, a phenomenon that illustrates how the Moroccans think of sugar as a spice as they did in the Middle Ages. Then she goes on to introduce the secondary aromatics, fragrant waters, herbs, preserved lemons, olives, oils, and milk products, leading the reader into the world of Moroccan cuisine and holding their hand at the same time.

She doesn’t shy away from the techniques or ingredients that typically scare the American cook away. This is as authentic as you get. It’s a rare cookbook author who so respects the cuisine they are writing about that they don’t send you to market to buy phyllo pastry to replace the Moroccan warka, a very thin dough cooked by gently tapping the wet dough in overlapping concentric circles on a hot flat pan called a tubsil. As a tubsil is impossible to find in this country Wolfert cleverly uses a steel paella pan turned upside-down over the burner. Ingenious!

Here is the book to learn all about couscous and how to make it and where to go to start on easier dishes such as tagines of chicken or fish. This book is highly recommended and is an essential part of any library that professes to be about Mediterranean cuisine, and cuisine in general. This book will never become dated and will provide years of joy.



Diane Kochilas, The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes from the Islands, Cities, and Villages

The great achievement of Diane Kochilas’ The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes from the Islands, Cities, and Villages published in 2001 is that for the first time we are introduced to the regional differences and complexity of Greece cuisine in historical context. This could only have been done by someone who traveled a lot and who met people and found their way into people’s kitchens. This is what Kochilas did. I only wish this book had existed when I wrote A Mediterranean Feast as there is no Greek cookbook close to it, except perhaps the now quite old, but not dated, Food of Greece by Vilma Chantiles.

Kochilas properly shows that the whole question of what constitutes Greek food is complex. She correctly and proudly shows, and accepts, that Greek cuisine as with all cuisines have multifarious influences. These influences are embraced and not denied. This is a breath of fresh air from the typical Greek food writer with the nationalistic approach. Setting Greek cuisine into an historical context is difficult because as anyone who has attempted to research early medieval Greece knows, one runs into a wall. As H. St L. B. Moss showed in his article "Greece and the Early Medieval West," in Michael Huxley, ed. The Root of Europe: Studies in the Diffusion of Greek Culture Greek influence on western Europe during the so-called Dark Ages is almost a case of lucus a non lucendo. It is the extinction of Greek influence in the West which characterizes this period. There is little evidence from this period. The break between the Greco-Roman world and the medieval world was nearly total, with the exception of the Eastern church. For several hundred years, under the Florentines, the Venetians, the Catalans, and the Turks, Greece was subjugated. The position of the Greeks during this time is reflected in the documents from these respective occupiers as well as trading nations such as Sicily: the Greeks remain nameless.

Kochilas’ achievement is all the remarkable because she has rightly used an anthropological approach for her culinary investigations. For her efforts we get a wonderful glimpse into a huge number of regional cooking styles. I just love that she talks about the island of Santorini, for example, where a history of food on Santorini informs us that the Venetian occupation on the island’s economy was feudal, with the population divided between the extremely wealthy controlling the peasants. The wealthy ate Western food or Italian dishes. The peasants used yellow split pea which was as basic as bread. She doesn’t overlook influences at all when she says that there are some Ottoman hints in the cooking of Crete such as the Cretans showing less of a penchant for avgolemono sauces but liking the derbiye, lemon juice and flour used by the Turks. At least one Cretan dish was introduced by the Turks, tzoulama (cirlama in Turkish), which traditionally is a pie made with chicken livers and cinnamon. The Jews of the island played a role too and the influx of Asia Minor Greeks also made an influence in Crete after 1920

The recipes are a delight as well. Take for instance two beauts from Crete, pseftokeftedes (false fritters) or tomatokeftedes, tomato fritters made with small fresh tomatoes, scallions, parsley, mint, flour and kouneli tyravgoulos, rabbit with a rich egg and cheese sauce. The entire country gets the Kochilas treatment which means fascinating and delicious recipes that work, embedded with the full flavor of their ingredients as well as their histories and cultural setting. This book is a must in any cook’s library. One caveat, though, if you’re cooking from this book, it’s not for beginners as some recipes need a little tweaking, but frankly, I don’t believe that detracts from the book. If you want Greek basics then Kochilas’ first book, the Food and Wine of Greece may be a better bet. Nevertheless, this book should still be on your shelf.



Ada Boni, Italian Regional Cooking

I was once asked what I thought was the best Italian cookbook. As she was quite young, the interviewer expected me to mention Mario Batali, or at the very least Marcella Hazan. But I explained that I had been cooking and reading cookbooks long before Marcella Hazan came on the scene. I did have to reflect a bit on this question, but quickly realized that Hazan’s books are not really about the regional variety of Italian cooking, but rather an introduction for beginners and intermediate cooks. I told the interviewer that I thought the best, or at least in my case, the most influential on my own cooking, was Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking translated from Italian and published in English in 1969. The young woman had never heard of Boni. Perhaps I was a bit harsh in saying that to not have heard of Boni as someone interested in Italian cooking was like never having heard of Moby Dick for someone interested in whales.

But she was young, and I explained that some of the best cookbooks ever written, not just Italian ones, were out of print and long gone from the shelves of bookstores. Ada Boni was the doyenne of Italian cookbook authors in the mid-twentieth century. In 1929 she published her monumental Il Talismano della Felicità which caused a sensation with its more than 1100 recipes and 89 color plates each showing a dish and each with a recipe. It was followed by several other books including the one under review. Italy had only been unified for less than a hundred years when she wrote and Italians still thought of themselves by the regions where they lived. Although she was Roman and there is a predilection for peninsular cooking, Boni was the first Italian to write about the regions of Italy giving them their due. She wrote with knowledge and precision and a certain charming flare that captivates anyone trying her recipes. Although the regional specialties were not explored in the kind of depth one would find today by Italian cookbook authors, they were wonderful introductions to regional cuisines. When she writes, “the Piedmontese are gentlemanly and old-fashioned. Piedmontese cooking is ‘good’ cooking in the old sense of the word, sober but substantial, simple yet counterpointed by rich flavors and pleasing aromas” we have a sense of how we are to approach her fagiano con funghi (pheasant with mushroom) recipe later in the chapter, even if we don’t try her recipe, reading it is flavorful.

When writing about her native Rome, she says “they [the Romans] loathe respectibility and treat strangers with the utmost familiarity, addressing them by nicknames at their first meeting. Such people cannot help but express their character in their cooking, where their inspiration explodes.” Enticed by the gorgeous photographs, a little too small for my taste, how can we not dive right into the making of her fettuccine all Romana with its homemade ribbon egg noodles seasoned with onion, garlic, tomatoes, bacon fat, chicken giblets, white wine, and meat gravy. Finished with butter, mind you!

Her chapters on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily are the weakest, but still stronger than so much of what you read today. But she is sensitive enough to know that a Sicilian fish cuscusu requires an elaborate recipe to capture how special this dish whose home is in Trapani really is.

This is one of the most enjoyable cookbooks ever written and reading recipes you’re unlikely to ever make, such as the masoro a la valesana (wild duck as cooked in the valley) or the wild boar steak in sweet sour sauce from Sardinia, will open a world for you of cooking as its no longer done.



Martha Rose Shulman, Mediterranean Harvest

My good friend Martha Rose Shulman who has been writing magnificent cookbooks since the 1970s has just published her latest Mediterranean Harvest. Here’s my blurb from the back cover: “It takes true talent to write a cookbook that will appeal to neophytes and experts, vegetarians and meat-lovers. For the tenderfoot in the kitchen, this personal introduction to Mediterranean food delivers memorable preparations you'll make over and over. For the expert, it's hard to believe that finally someone has put all our favorite recipes in one place. For the vegetarian, these are delicious all-vegetable recipes. For the omnivore, such as me, it was two days after reading the book that I realized there were no meat recipes. That's the marriage of a great cuisine with a great cookbook writer.”



Efisio Farris, Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey

“History Matters” is the title of the introduction to Efisio Farris’ newly published Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey: The Mediterranean Flavors of Sardinia. History does matter and Mr. Farris got it right. Here we have one of the most exciting cookbooks published in years.

Efisio Farris, an accomplished chef, owns and operates two restaurants, Arcodoro in Houston and Arcodoro & Pomodoro in Dallas, where his brother Francesco is executive chef. Mr. Farris with his wife Lori also operate a Sardinian specialty gourmet import store at This is his first book and it’s a winner.

Beautifully produced by publisher Rizzoli the book is filled with gorgeous photographs by Laurie Smith and Rohan Van Twest to accompany an intimate and personal story of Mr. Farris and his family who hail from Orosei on Sardinia’s east coast. I can say outright that it is a miracle that this magnificent book has seen the light of day in this era of dumbed-down and bottom-line oriented soulless cookbooks. Here we have a true study and revelation of a kind of cooking that is not merely a regional Italian cooking from the island of Sardinia but is in fact an exploration of a sub-regional cuisine of the island, namely, the cooking of the region known as the Baronia. This is exemplified most readily by the fact that we are given the recipes with both the English name and not merely the Sardinian name, but the local Sardinian dialect name.

Although history matters, this book is not strictly a culinary history, it is a story of a man’s family and it reflects the history that courses through Sardinian veins, in a way that is all but foreign to so many Americans. This book is a journey to Efisio’s family’s table. He pulls no punches when it comes to the table and in this day and age of internet food purveyors many of what we once called exotic ingredients is readily available for those who are reading this.

There is no better recipe to start such a book as the one food emblematic of Sardinia, the flat bread known as carta da musica or “music sheet” bread, so named because of its thinness. But Farris doesn’t mention that that name is actually an Italian name for what the Sardinians call pane carasau. A well-traveled but first time visitor to Sardinia will sometimes feel out of it if they think they will know the food by virtue of being familiar with Italian food. The food is unique and different. What exactly is pane guttiau? Here you will find out. It’s pane carasau that has been drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and toasted golden brown. I don’t think I’ve seen a recipe for pane carasau anywhere else, so that recipe alone makes the price of the book worth it.

Many recipes are very personal and clearly only made in Efisio’s family such as his sister Angela’s calamari stuffed with ricotta cheese and bottarga. He also demonstrates the Sardinian penchant of combining ingredients you wouldn’t think of going together, such as the watermelon, arugula, ricotta salata, and walnut salad dressed with raspberry vinegar, lime and orange juice.

Efisio’s charm radiates when you read sentences such as his wondering why he had never encountered a mussel and myrtle dish as he once did at a festival near his home town. “As with the songs of the Sardinian countryside, which are often sung unaccompanied by instruments, these ingredients are like voices coming together in beauty.”

On the other hand, there are dishes offered which sound as enticing as a chocolate cake to a birthday boy. I’m thinking of the pork ribs with lentils and saba. Saba is reduced vin cotto or grape must with the addition of sugar and some citrus zest that is used as a glaze or flavoring agent. In this particular recipe individual pork ribs are braised with beef stock, the local Cannonau wine, onion, garlic, herbs, juniper berries, and saba along with lentils for an undoubtedly fantastic combination. Although he doesn’t suggest it I imagine pomegranate molasses might make a fine substitute for saba if it can’t be found or made from your own grape must.

Sardinia, being an island, leads one to believe that there must be rich seafood cookery. But as Efisio explains, the coast was victim to various predators over the centuries, especially pirates, raiding parties, and invading armies and as a result there are few coastal towns older than 150 years. Sardinians have always been wary of the sea because in it lurked danger and out of it came despoilers. What this means for seafood cookery is that it is simple, such as a whole grouper cooked in tomato sauce. In a way, this is perfect for Americans who, in spite being surrounded by coasts on nearly all sides are woefully ignorant of seafood and its cookery.

This wonderful cookbook could not have been an easy book to write because authors from the Mediterranean always face the fact that the average American cookbook reader has such a limited experience with the soul of food preparation, it’s family, and cultural origins. In an era of “lunchables” how does one explain the relationship of a plant with a community, such as the myrtle so favored by Sardinians? Or the killing of a pig where even the blood gets used? Or the salting of the ovarian membrane of a tuna to produce bottarga? It is no mean feat to accomplish such a comforting and insightful book that opens a window into the soul of a culture by virtue of its foodways. Efisio Farris wanted his book to capture through recipes not just the food but the people, stories, traditions, and history behind them and preserve them for the future. This he has accomplished. Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey would make a delightful holiday gift for the cook in the family. For that matter it would be an appreciated gift for anyone who loves food.



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Just like what’s happening with barbecue and grilling books (and Italian cookbooks), publishers feel obliged to regularly come out with books covering the same subject over and over again. This is because it is difficult to keep books in print, and older books (with a few exceptions, like The Joy of Cooking) are simply not as marketable as newer books. That said, Wright’s collection of hot and spicy recipes from around the world [Some Like it Hot] is much like the dozens that have come before it. It is comprehensive and the recipes look like they are authentic and complete, with a lot of anecdotal information to delight the reader. ...  Anyone who can write a chapter title like “Hot Chicks, Wicked Ducks, and Killer Rabbits” gets a pat on the back from me! 
- Dave DeWitt, author of The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia;

I always felt it would take several lifetimes to research the many facets of Mediterranean cooking--history, languages, influences, the range of culinary resourcefulness and extravagance, and the varied tastes of fourteen countries.  In his monumental work [Mediterranean Feast], Clifford Wright has made a huge contribution.  An astonishing accomplishment.
- Paula Wolfert, author of The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean

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