Italian cookbooks

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Made in Sicily

Giorgio Locatelli, Fourth Estate, £30

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To Giorgio Locatelli, chef-patron of the well-regarded Locanda Locatelli restaurant, Sicily was for most of his life a fabled island – Italy but not Italy, with a climate, history, dialect and way of life so different from his upbringing in Lombardy in the north that it may as well have been a foreign country.

Locatelli didn’t make the journey to Sicily until the late ‘90s, long after he’d established himself as a chef in London. But since then he’s spent a great deal of time on the island, learning about its history-rich cuisine, and this book is the result.

In format it’s similar to Locatelli’s first book, ‘Made in Italy’, with a plain white cover and lots of gorgeous pictures of people, produce and places. ‘Made in Sicily’ is a collection of recipes from all around the island and from different food traditions: the cucina povera of the rural poor as well as dishes that are relics of Sicilian nobility.

There are recipes for typical Palermo street-food dishes, such as panelle (chickpea fritters), and for regional dishes such as the famed fish soup from Trapani, which is served with couscous and has a North African influence. Other recipes, such as the aubergine-based stew caponata, show the typical Sicilian liking of agrodolce (sweet and sour) flavours. But it’s more than just a collection of recipes.

Locatelli’s love of the place is evident. He talks to producers, farmers and other cooks to find out what makes Sicilian food uniquely Sicilian. The chapter about the influence of the Mafia on the island’s food culture is particularly illuminating. It’s a great read and a great resource.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 2150: Nov 3-9 2011

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