BOOK REVIEW – Inside the Italian Kitchen

I really like this book, a collaboration between chef Marco Roccasalvo of  the restaurant Capo de’Fiori in Bray and Anne Kennedy of who, in her introduction, says “If you think some of his recipes are too simple to be excellent, then his (Marco’s) work is done.”

There’s a long and informative section on the Italian store cupboard, stressing the importance of using top class ingredients and giving a few wrinkles, hints and tips on how to choose and use them. Marco stresses the importance of matching pasta to sauce, for example and teaches you how to tell good mozzarella from bad.

The section on coffee is not mega-helpful; I can’t help thinking it’s a shame that the Italians, who invented that marvelous gadget the espresso machine, overlook coffee’s potential complexity of flavour in favour of the ‘big hit’. A lifestyle thing, I suppose – ‘drink your espresso and move on’.

And so to the recipes. Simple is right and none the worse for it. There’s nothing here that couldn’t be replicated by the average home cook and nothing that your guests wouldn’t enjoy. And, from first page till last, the author’s honesty shines through, contributing to the book’s authenticty.

‘Inside the Italian Kitchen’ would make a wonderful first cookbook, a perfect primer to teach young people away from home for the first time how to cook tasty, nourishing food with the minimum of fuss and bother.

‘Inside the Italian Kitchen’, €20, is published by and available from the restaurant, from bookshops and from the website.