Italian cookbooks

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Francesco’s Kitchen

Francesco da Mosto, Ebury Press, £25

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Following his artistic journeys through Venice and Italy, Venetian architect and author Francesco da Mosto has turned his attention to the food of his home town. His latest book features a good selection of classic recipes from Venice and its surrounding region, the Veneto, while the accompanying anecdotes provide an entertaining insight into this lesser-known Italian regional cuisine.

However, da Mosto can be so entrenched in the comfort of his own kitchen that he often forgets that he’s writing for an audience unfortunate enough not to have the abundant, relatively inexpensive fresh seafood and produce of Rialto market at their doorstep.

As a result, a few recipes feature ingredients that are either impossible to find outside Venice or are extremely costly, if they can be tracked down. After all, even Venetian expats have resorted to timing visits home to quell their cravings for local cuisine highlights such as moeche, deep-fried soft-shell crabs that are caught during a brief moulting season in spring and autumn.

If you don’t mind da Mosto’s constant references to himself and his aristocratic family (it turns out Lord Byron contracted gonorrhoea during a fling with a da Mosto beauty), this book is a lively read and a reliable introduction to the gastronomy of Venice.

Elena Berton

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