The Regional Italian Kitchen

$15.00

By Nika Hazelton, M. Evans and Co., first edition, 1978. Hardback with DJ. 346 pages. Another admired cookbook that’s out of print.

Hazelton was a gifted writer of great range, and is eclipsed in recognition these days by authors with Italian names like Marcella Hazan, and certainly by such TV cooks-restaurateurs-authors like Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali and Gina De Laurentis. However, one shouldn’t discount her “creds.” She spent her childhood in Rome and traveled through Italy as the daughter of a Roman mother and German father, and through her travels, fell in love with the varied regional home-cooking styles. When she finally settled in New York, she was embraced by the culinary crowd.

“The recipes in this book,” she writes, “have come from such home cooks. Some go back to my Italian childhood, some are from relatives, dispersed to all parts of the Italian peninsula. Others were gathered in my travels, given to me by friends, discovered in old cookbooks or in eating places in every region of Italy that still features la cucina casalinga, home cooking of the region.”

She also makes a point this book doesn't duplicate recipes found in most Itaian cookbooks. "Rather, it concentrates on recipes not generally known in America."One such dish, “Professor Pezzo’s Pesto,” comes from “a distinguished antiquarian who likes to cook.” It’s a subtler, lighter sauce, that while using most of the normal ingredients of pesto, fresh basil, olive oil and pine nuts, Professor Pezzo omitted garlic and then added a blended mix of butter and bit of milk to the sauce. One can also substitute Italian parsley leaves. She adds: “This Pesto does not keep and should be used when freshly made.” I also like Hazelton’s “Ciuppin,” which can either be a mixed-fish soup or a stew, she writes, “depending on the amount of (tomato-based) liquid, or it can be pureed into a sauce for pasta or rice.”

Hazelton wrote an astounding variety of cookbooks, more than 30 of them in all, including Classic "Scandinavian Cooking" and "The Swiss Cookbook," also both standards. When she died at 84 in 1992, she merited a featured New York Times obituary in the New York Times. It began: “Nika Hazelton's cookbooks have been a mainstay of serious cooks for nearly half a century.” There you have it.

Condition: VG+/VG+. Another copy, with DJ wear at extremities, VG+/VG.


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