28 September 2011

Italian Cooking

We are not particularly one an Italian cooking crusade this week, but we did pick up Robin Howe's vintage tome Italian Cooking on our recent beach adventures. In the 1950's the venerable British publishing house, Andre Deutch, published a cookery series featuring a vast collection of international cuisines from Alsace to Turkey. Robin Howe was responsible for several of the titles including this Italian cookbook.

For Howe this book is two-fold:

"...to bring Italian cooking to the housewife and to help those traveling in Italy who, faced with a long and tantalizingly attractive menu, end up by ordering spaghetti because it is the only dish they are sure about."

As Bob Dylan might say, "the times, they are a-changin'." Or maybe not. One could actually take most every recipe in this book, give them an updated re-write, add some color photos, slap Mario on the cover and have a fine cookbook.

This is not so much a testament to Robin Howe as it is to Italian cuisine. Truth be told, once you learn a few basics, you can cook up a storm. And while Howe laments the fact that the most the British housewife of the 1950's might have known of Italian cooking is as simply "spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes", there is a lot to be said for spaghetti,garlic, olive oil , and tomatoes! Trow in a pounded cutlet and some aubergine, grab a bottle of red wine and it's dining at its finest. It seems that every other recipe title ends with the words, "cooked in wine." There is:
veal with marsala
chicken marsala
whiting cooked in wine
beef braised in wine
beef stewed in wine
rabbit stewed in wine
quail cooked in wine
artichokes cooked in wine
cabbage cooked in wine
onions cooked in wine

We are sticking with the aubergine.

Fried Aubergine Slices
Melanzane Fritte

4 medium aubergine (egg-plant)
coating batter

Wash the aubergines, cut off the stems, peel and slice thinly in rounds Sprinkle the slices with salt and press between two plates. Leave for one hour. Wipe dry with a cloth and dip in coating batter. Fry in deep boiling fat until brown.

Alternatively you can dip the slices in egg and breadcrumbs, or fry au naturel. Serve hot.

Mario couldn't have done it any better. If you don't want to fry it, just cook it in wine!


  1. I would love to own this cookbook, what a great cover!! The recipes must be gems, and, like you say, so easy to make contemporary with a few tweaks.

  2. I wanted to have that kind of cookbook. Cooking is such an art which not only make you happy or earns you appreciation but also can counter your appetite in a very delicious manner. This is such an wonderful instinct that can make you creative day by day.



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