An Italian Cookbook with Heart and Soul

Valentina Harris' cookbook memoir 'Fiori di Zucca' examines the intersection of food, family, and travel

Fiori di Zucca Cover

If you're looking for a cookbook with a personal narrative and a varied collection of recipes to go along with it, Fiori di Zucca (Watkins Publishing, $25) by Valentina Harris is definitely worth a look. Harris, who was born in Tuscany, is widely regarded across the pond as an authority on Italian cuisine, having published 40 cookbooks and hosted her own cooking show on BBC, Italian Regional Cookery.

So how come the book has so many recipes that aren't Italian? Well, though her family has its roots firmly embedded in Italy, they also did a fair bit of traveling to get to where they are today. Her mother traces her roots to the Sforza dynasty in Milan, and her father was an Anglo-Irish Dutchman in the English army. Though her mother was born in Peking, the two of them met in Italy at the end of World War II.

Hence, in the book you'll find recipes from locales as far apart as Russia, Belgium, France, Morocco, the United States, and even China. To whet your appetites, we've included a few of the traditional Italian ones below.

Roasted Langoustines

This recipe, passed down by Harris' mother, lets the true flavor of fresh langoustine shine. (Photo courtesy of William Lingwood)

Roman Braised Artichokes

Here is a simple and powerfully flavored Roman preparation for artichokes. (Photo courtesy of William Lingwood)

Fried Zucchini Flowers

This is the recipe taught to Harris by the family cook, Beppino. (Photo courtesy of William Lingwood)


Will Budiaman is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.