This Tuesday I would like to tempt your taste buds with a little tale from the beginning of my culinary adventures on the Amalfi Coast. When I first arrived here two years ago, I have to admit I was quite nervous to start cooking for my boyfriend. There I was, a novice with Italian cooking, trying to find my way in this land of many traditions and make a good impression at the same time. Fortunately, I found a man who loves good food and loves to cook. Many of our first meals were cooked together, which is a tradition I love that we have maintained. Yet it wasn’t long before the wonderful cooking here inspired me to be a bit more adventurous in the kitchen. I wanted to know how to make my own zuppa di fagioli e scarola (bean and escarole soup) and I wanted to know how to prepare those delicious looking melanzane (eggplant) and funghi (mushrooms) I saw at the market.
At just the right time, my Mom came to the rescue (grazie Mom!) by buying me a copy of Arthur Schwartz’s cookbook Naples at Table: Cooking in Campania. I didn’t take me long to realize just how good this cookbook was, and it very quickly became my cooking bible. I have learned so much from this book, and I can say it is spot on about many of the cooking methods and traditions here in Campania. (Although with certain dishes there are, of course, many different ways to prepare them.) Schwartz clearly did his research, as many of his dishes are prepared exactly how I have learned to cook them here from family and friends. Schwartz does an excellent job capturing the simplicity of many typical dishes here, such as Spaghetti con tonno sott’olio (Spaghetti with canned tuna) and Linguine all’Amalfitana (Linguine with walnuts and anchovies). These dishes are simple and take no longer to make than it takes to boil your water for pasta. Quick and easy and delicious, these dishes will quickly become standards in your home!
I will never forget how this book helped me prepare meals that shocked my boyfriend at first. He would ask, “How did you know how to make this exactly how we make it here?” My little secret! Over the last two years, I have met several of the people that Schwartz talked to and gathered recipes from, and I have enjoying trying my own hand at making recipes from some of the best cooks on the Amalfi Coast and in Campania.
In addition to being a great cookbook, Naples at Table is also a real pleasure to read. Schwartz has an in depth knowledge of the cooking traditions and history of Campania, and he shares it in interesting tidbits throughout the cookbook. This book has taught me so much over the past two years, and I would highly recommend it to those of you interested in learning about the fabulous cooking here in Campania. It is temporarily out of stock at Amazon, so check with your local bookseller. You can read more about Naples at Table over at Food Maven and South of Rome.
Do you have other favorite cookbooks
Tempting Tuesday: Cetara