Do you enjoy cooking? Or maybe you have a friend or family member who does?
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I love to cook. I always think preparing a great meal and then enjoying it seated around a table with family or friends is an act and expression of love. Like most people I love Italian food. My books about Italy all talk about the foods of the region I’m in, and discuss which foods you absolutely must try while there. (I also tell you which wines to drink by region.)
A few years ago an Italian chef came to live with us to work on his English. His parents are dear friends of mine, and he was starting to teach cooking classes at his family’s agriturismo in Tuscany. He needed help with chatty, cooking English.
So each night one of us cooked. He made Italian dishes and I made Mexican dishes, which to him were novel and exciting. We stood side by side and I translated, teaching him words like whisk it, flip it, stir it – basically words he needed to be able to use during cooking classes. It was a blast! Marcello made fresh pasta on the nights he cooked, which my son and I both found fascinating and fabulous. Before he returned to Italy he filled our freezer (literally!) with homemade tortellini, casoncelli and ravioli along with a supply of sauces enough to last us a year.
This year while stuck at home I have taken to cooking Italian food. I make my own pasta, I even make biscotti which have become our favorite breakfast paired with Italian coffee. See how to make coffee, Italian style here and here.
I’ve also been watching all my favorite Italian chefs (and ex-pats living in Italy) on Instagram and getting inspired by their cooking. Several of them have cookbooks out. Like them, their cookbooks have a fresh, modern take on traditional Italian cooking. The fun thing about Instagram, and particularly the Instagram photos, stories, reels and IGTV is that it makes you feel as though you know these chefs personally. When you try their recipes you can hear their voices speaking the instructions to you.
So just for fun I am giving you a list of my favorite Italian cookbooks and including the Instagram acount of the chef for each. These make fabulous gifts for others or for yourself. The recipes are woderful and in most cases quite easy. And of course the photogaphy is just gorgeous!
Canadians know David Rocco from his TV show. He travels the globe cooking and eating and interacting with locals, somewhat like Anthony Bourdain. His Instagram @davidroccosvita is an absolute joy. He is always cooking up fabulous and easy recipes with and filmed by his three children. He has multiple cookbooks out but this is a great one to start with. It’s all about cooking for family and is a great exploration of Italian cuisine. The photos are to die for too. You can see David Rocco’s Dolce Famiglia here.
This is one of several books by Elizabeth Minchilli, all of them are fabulous. Minchilli lives between Rome and a restored farmhouse in Umbria, and her Instagram feed is just dreamy. You can find her on Instagram @eminchilli. (Also check out her daughter Sophie’s fabulous feed @sminchilli.) The Italian Table takes you on a tour of Italy via Elizabeth’s beautiful photography, introduces you to foods from the various regions and not only has recipes but also helps you to plan a dinner party or gathering of friends and family with everything from menu ideas to giving you times to do the various tasks. (2 hours before guests arrive do this, 30 minutes before serving sinner do that.) You can see The Italian Table on Amazon her
I have mutiple reasons to love this book. Maria Pasquale is an Australian living in my favorite city in the world, Rome. She lives in my neighborhood, the Trastevere, and on top of that we were both guests on the Untold Italy podcast. My episode was about Florence, Maria’s episode was about Rome.
Maria has a blog, I Heart Rome and her Instagram account is @iheartrome. You may also have read her work for CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler and USA Today Travel. This book is special because each chapter focuses on a dining concept specific to daily life in Rome. You not only learn the food but also the culture, and you will come away from it with a list of places you want to visit and foods you want to try while in the Eternal City. The I Heart Rome cookbook is fabulous and you can find it on Amazon here.
Italy is a nation built on stories and this glorious book takes you on a journey via the stories of Australian born Emiko Davies’ husband’s family. Marco’s great grandparents were from Taranto in southern Puglia. He was a mailman who met and fell in love with a noblewoman. A match that was unheard of at the time, the two had to elope. They had nine children then moved as far away as possible – up to Turin in northern Italy. Marco’s grandparents were born in Turin but moved to Tuscany where his parents and he himself were all born.
This book traces the family’s heirloom recipes from Taranto to Turin to Tuscany. Along the way you will not only fall in love with the food Emiko cooks but also with the stories from the family and the infinite possibilities for you too to meet your perfect match in Italy and become a part of the story.
New Jersey born but Rome based, Katie Parla doesn’t just write cookbooks, she is a fully credentialed sommelier and does food and travel writing for every big travel publication you can think of. Her Instagram @KatieParla is a fabulous culinary romp that will have you itching to get to Italy.
This book is about the spectacular cuisines of Italy’s deep south. If you are a follower of this blog, my Instagram @CorinnaTravels or if you belong to my newsletter then you already know that I absolutely love and spend lots of time in Puglia, Campania and Basilicata, where this book takes place. I would go as far as saying it is impossible to explore the south of Italy and not fall completely, maddeningly, hopelessly in love with it.
Much of the food we associate as being Italian actually originated in the south, so even if you haven’t yet been there many of the recipes will feel familiar. Food of the Italian South is a wonderful book. You can pick up a copy here at Amazon.