Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cookbooks: Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey Through Northeastern Italy by Elisabeth Antoine Crawford

One of the things that’s so amazing about Italian cookery is that it really does seem infinitely variable. After all, one would think, how many Italian cookbooks do we actually need in the English language? Yet -- with obvious exceptions -- we see book after wonderful book that exposes us to a new, lesser explored wrinkle that opens a new culinary journey for non-Italian cooks.

Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey Through Northeastern Italy (Equilibrio) is a good example. Because it explores the food of a very specific and off-the-beaten track piece of real estate in Northeastern Italy. From the introduction:
Tucked away between mountains and sea in Italy’s extreme northeast corner, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a veritable melting pot of cultures. Today, the only clear boundary lines are political: those that separate Italy from the neighboring countries of Austria and Slovenia, those that mark the boundaries between Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Italy’s Veneto region, and those that delineate Friuli’s four provinces: Trieste, Udine, Gorizia, and Pordenone.
As a result, the food of the region reflects just about all of factors you might expect. Imagine, gnocchi stuff with prosciutto and cheese; pork stew with pancetta and cinnamon; cheese-filled polenta balls and hearty bean and vegetable soups remarkable for their use of local ingredients.

Though Flavors of Friuli is definitely a cookbook, as much as that it is a tourbook: a gentle yet thorough introduction to a region not as well known as so many others in this country that has been remarked on for wonderful food for centuries.

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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