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Lidia Bastianich's Take on Italian-American Cuisine
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Lidia Bastianich, owner of Eataly, Del Posto, and several other restaurants in New York City, has published her eighth cookbook. It features recipes from her eponymous television series on PBS, where she travels around America highlighting the nuances of Italian-American cuisine. From Baltimore to San Francisco and New York City to New Orleans, Lidia explores the origins of a food culture distinct from that of Italy’s, but still true to its roots. She writes, “But for all their ingenuity, Italian immigrants could not bring all their resources with them. The Promised Land did not offer plump, sweet San Marzano plum tomatoes or fresh Mediterranean herbs. So Italian cuisine underwent a transformation by adapting to whatever ingredients were available.”
But perhaps just as important, American cuisine underwent a reciprocal transformation, starting at the roots — it’s common now to find escarole, artichokes, and radicchio lining supermarket produce sections. It is this mutual evolution that Lidia aims to explore with each chapter in her book.
Every chapter showcases the story of a different Italian community and features recipes from the area, beginning with a brief history. There is also an index that organizes all of the recipes according to corresponding episodes on the TV show. The collection of recipes is as diverse as the backgrounds of the people they represent, and features everything from pasta primavera to zeppole, sausage and peppers, and lemon ice. This cookbook isn’t just a collection of recipes; it’s a journey through America as seen by Italian Americans today.
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