Saturday, June 4, 2022

June/July Selection: A Cook's tour - Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

We at Cook the Books Club are going on A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain.  I am pretty much looking forward to this trip along with Tony, and the rest of you, into some extreme adventures with food and travel.  Though, I must admit feeling a bit leery, as he is said to be pretty outrageous.  One of us recently admitted to living under a rock, and I agreed to dwelling in a similar place, having never heard of or seen video or film of or read books by either Stanley Tucci or Anthony Bourdain.   So, coming out from under the rock, I picked this book after reading a few reviews, because it sounded fun, entertaining and even informative.  Basically like something I wanted to read!

Bourdain shows himself to be one of the country's best food writers. His opinions are as strong as his language, and his tastes as infectious as his joy." -Sam Sifton, New York Times Book Review

The only thing "gonzo gastronome" and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?," Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.

From Publisher's Weekly:
"...  Chef Anthony Bourdain, author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential ... writes with humor and intelligence, describing meals of boudin noir and Vietnamese hot vin lon ("essentially a soft-boiled duck embryo") and 'fessing up to a few nights of over-indulgence ("I felt like I'd awakened under a collapsed building," he writes of a night in San Sebastian hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar). Goat's head soup, lemongrass tripe, and pork-blood cake all make appearances, as does less exotic fare, such as French fries and Mars bars (deep fried, but still). In between meals, Bourdain lets his readers in on the surprises and fears of a well-fed American voyaging to far-off, frugal places, where every part of an animal that can be eaten must be eaten, and the need to preserve food has fueled culinary innovation for centuries. He also reminds his audience of the connections between food and land and human toil, which, in these sterilized days of pre-wrapped sausages, is all too easy to forget."

What we do here at Cook the Books Club is to read a bi-monthly book selection, get inspired to cook something from it, post that inspiration and then voila, join in.  Deadline for contributing your post for this current selection is Sunday, July 31, 2022. New participants are always welcome. (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.)


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Taste: My Life Through Food, The Roundup

How did June get here so soon?! It's time for our roundup of our April/May Selection: Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Mahalo friends for joining me in this read that seemed to well-liked by most of our group! I'll be recapping the entries in the order I received them, or as closely as possible.

First in was Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats who loves that "Tucci, actor, writer and all-around engaging screen personality, is a food obsessive like me, and his depictions made for very entertaining reading. He writes just like he speaks on film, and one can just hear his voice as the sentences roll off the page." She was inspired by Tucci's prose on Ragu, saying "Especially captivating are Tucci’s depictions of meals enjoyed by him over the years. Of Ragu, he says, “Ragu is eaten with fresh pasta, the reason being that the richness of the sauce needs a pasta of suitable shape and texture to absorb it properly.” Rather than make Tucci's recipe, Cathy made her grandmother's Abruzzo’s Pasta Alla Chitarra with Lamb Ragu, saying "Although in the book Tucci goes on to provide his family’s “famous” Ragu recipe, I’ve chosen to focus instead on grandmother’s take on the traditional sauce, and to provide her tutorial for the pasta chitarra as well. Enjoy!"

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm LOVED the book saying, "This memoir had me laughing out loud from the first page. I so enjoyed getting to know Stanley Tucci and really, really want to join him for dinner, drinks and conversation." Wendy chose a cocktail for her dish, his Perfect Negroni Up, saying, "Food inspiration comes easily while reading this memoir but, just in case you don't get bowled over by Stanley's food descriptions, there are numerous recipes interspersed throughout, starting with the cocktail that I am sharing with you today. ... As for the cocktail?  I did think it was pretty perfect. Of course, I love Campari and have an affinity for bitter."

Camilla of Culinary Cam enjoyed the book finding that "Tucci writes with candor and a wry humor in this intersection of food and life." Camilla added her own flair to that so popular zucchini pasta dish, making it a Tre Colori Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano and saying, "Okay, his wasn't a three-colored pasta, but it's what I had. ... My recipe is slightly adapted, but still amazing. I will definitely be making this again as summer is approaching and that always brings a glut of zucchini!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor said, "As soon as I started reading Taste it was clear there would be much food inspiration. Tucci had a way of describing his childhood which evoked so many memories of my own. The benefits of growing up in an Italian neighborhood were immense and I loved every bit of it.This book is humorous, engaging and sad in parts." For her inspiration Tina found that "There are many recipes included in this book and you'll be hungry as you read about his foodie experiences. ...So many wonderful recipes - here is the first one, Classic Carbonara."

Claudia of Honey From Rock said, "What an enjoyable read! And especially for us book foodies, with so many suggestions, memorable meals, recipes encountered in his full and sometimes even tragic life. I felt as though I had met and come to know the man, with his sense of humor, conversations on whatever was happening, and sometimes rather dogmatic views, as per the one on NOT EVER cutting your spaghetti. And, not combining the wrong pasta and sauce. I'm sure I do that on a regular basis. Occasionally even cut my spaghetti. OMG!'  For her dish she said, "There was absolutely so much inspiration here, every other page at least. What most appealed however, was a meal he's enjoyed a number of times at Lo Scoglio on the Amalfi coast. Spaghetti con Zucchini alla Nerano. I mean the way he raved, and the very simplicity of the dish itself.  Basically zucchini, basil, olive oil, salt, spaghetti and Parmigiana-Reggiano. And, of course, the secret ingredient, a dollop of butter, ferreted out by Stanley in the restaurant's kitchen."

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures felt that, "If I were to rate this book on the beginning (Mr Tucci's childhood) and the end (his battle with cancer), I would probably give it 4.5 stars. But then there's the middle bit. Parts were compelling, parts found Mr. Tucci's waxing on a bit, and parts had me full out rolling my eyes over the poor me celebrity bit. Regardless, it was an enjoyable read overall (especially his childhood.). There are several recipes added throughout, which also makes this a great foodie read!" For her dish, Amy made Tucci's Traditional 3-Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo and said, "I was most intrigued by Mr. Tucci’s explanation of alfredo. Well, according to Mr Tucci, the American, cream-based version that is our favorite is apparently an abomination. A true alfredo is 3 ingredients only: pasta, butter, and parmesan. Say what?!? ... The verdict: it was good, but overall, we’d prefer the cream-based alfredo or the cheater parmesan noodles instead!"

Marg of The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader joined us this month and enjoyed the audiobook, saying, "From the opening paragraphs of this book, this was a delightful audio experience. Even now that I have the book sitting here, I can hear Tucci's voice as I flick through the pages and read various paragraphs." Her inspiration? "When I was thinking about which recipe to share for this post, there really was one that jumped at me and that was Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano. There were two main reasons for this. One is the the way that Tucci waxed lyrically about it in both the book and in his TV series.  The second reason is that I love cooking with zucchini, or more precisely chopping zucchini. When I am chopping zucchini I feel as though I have some knife skills which is definitely not true."

Debra of Eliot's Eats said, "Reading Taste is like having your own personal conversations with Tucci.  His tales are honest, homey, and unpretentious (even when he’s talking about dining with Marcello Mostroianni or attending George Clooney’s wedding)." Debra was going to make a frittata but said she, "wanted something a little different to celebrate Taste" and so she made his Spaghetti with Lentils. She states, "I really like this recipe and it is a pretty easy one to prep. I used a full carrot and a full stalk of celery (although they were small ones). I also used the full recipe of marinara—just dumped it all in. A little parmesan and  basil to garnish and dinner was served. I’m sharing this with some vegetarian friends."

Ruth of @ruth44north (her Instagram account) joins us this round saying, "Thank you ladies for the inspiration! I discovered your blog recently ( why have I just found you !?!?) and happened to have Taste on my night table. You don’t have to ask me twice to recreate the amazing Timpano served in Big Night for which I’ve been drooling for a trusted recipe for over 30 years. Very worth the bit of prep; I halved the recipe since we are a two person household and it came out beautifully in a deep Lodge dutch oven dish. The key was giving the ragu time enough to develop; didn’t hurt that we still had garden tomatoes and sauce from last summer. Prepping ingredients a day ahead made the actual assembly fairly painless. while the Timpano baked it gave me time to revisit the honest, touching and delicious words of Mr. Tucci while relaxing in the hammock (Me, not Stanley Tucci. It also helped calm my nerves that were all a flutter with anxiety about whether I was going to be able to get the Timpano safely out of the pan) We of course had to watch the film again - it’s the recipe that keeps on giving!! Graci Mille Stanley Tucci and Cook the Books!!!"

Simona of briciole liked that, "The book included a couple of interesting sections, one pertaining the history of the highly enjoyable movie Big Night (1996), in which Tucci played the younger brother, Secondo. I didn't know that he had written the screenplay. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it." For her dish Simona made a Strawberry, Fava Bean, Fennel and Radish Salad, saying, "Reading the book in the run-up to the 16th anniversary of my little blog, made me think of all the recipes I have created for it. I decided to select a recipe from the early years and update it based on my current eating habits. The recipe I chose comes from a July 2008 post and features seasonal ingredients quite representative of Italian cuisine. The salad also happens to include the colors of the Italian flag (called tricolore): white, red and green (bianco, rosso e verde)."

Finally, in a move that might get me kicked out of Cook the Books, at Kahakai Kitchen, I ordered rather than cooked my dish. A blogging/cooking slump, compounded with a case of COVID that hit my asthma and has me hitting the energy wall every early afternoon, made the thought of cooking this weekend unbearable. I adored the book--both reading and listening to Stanley and ended up bringing in one of my favorite dishes Mushroom Risotto from a local cafe. Tucci mentions it as part of a quarantine menu and risotto in general a few times in the book. I didn't even have the energy to plate it, but I enjoyed it for two meals (on the couch of course!). I did include some mushroom risotto recipes that I did actually make in my post.  

Wow! Every Cook the Books round I think of how wonderful it would be to be able to taste everyone's book-inspired dishes, and I think this roundup is one of the most delicious. Thank you all for joining me!

I believe I posted all of the entries received from the comments and/or those sent by email, but if I missed anyone, please let me know. 

I will now turn things over to my fellow Hawaii Blogger, Claudia of Honey From Rock for our June/July selection, Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines.    

Happy Reading and Eating!

Deb, Kahakai Kitchen