Why buy it?
Forever in hot pursuit of culinary pleasure are Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. As the endearing, bickering hosts of BBC’s Two Greedy Italians, the pair has released a second collection of recipes they’ve long held close to their hearts – despite having traded their motherland for the UK some 40 years ago. Carluccio has penned 13 books on Italian cooking, and ran Neal Street Restaurant in London for 26 years. He employed Contaldo, 12 years his junior, as a chef and thus began their enduring friendship. Contaldo, having mentored a young Jamie Oliver, is now a consultant for the Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain.
In Eat Italy, you’ll find homely Italian recipes with both history and heart: swordfish rolls, stuffed with parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs and parmesan, plus the juice of an orange, screams classic Calabria, while the baked apples with walnuts, raisins and honey is so rustic it conjures an apron-clad nonna insisting her loved ones dig in, pronto.
On a recent trip to Australia, 75-year-old Carluccio most matter-of-factly stated: 'I’m not a cook, I’m a chef," which suggests why Eat Italy is no-fuss Italian destined for the home cook. It doesn’t set out to glorify the cuisine, but to show people that they can cook – and that filled baked trout is a cinch. Recipes are broken up by personal tales about their beloved yet misunderstood homeland. The book reveals what makes Italians different from other Europeans (the distinct way they eat for pleasure) and uncovers a national pride that rests firmly upon delicate sheets of silk-thin pasta.
Carluccio has long advocated his MOF-MOF principle – that is, food cooked with a minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour. The cookbook rarely strays from this philosophy, as seen in the uncomplicated crumbed porcini mushrooms; a soul-enhancing rice and potato soup; and silk handkerchief pasta with freshly made pesto.
Most surprising dish
Potato and cabbage bake.
'By accident, or the need to substitute an ingredient, you come up with something different, perhaps even tastier than the original. Many Italian recipes emanate from the idea of 'making something out of nothing’: meatballs made from leftover meat, pasta sauces from leftover vegetables or the juices from a roast chicken."
Fans of the TV show; seafood aficionados (one-third of the recipes are inspired by Italy’s magnificent coastline); those who love Italian but rarely attempt it at home.
Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo (Quadrille Publishing, $39.95, hbk).
View more recipes from Two Greedy Italians TV program.