It’s eerily intimate to read about the history, stories and legends of your home, to see in print the cities and towns that are in your backyard and to understand the culture that is unfolding before you in black and white. No, I’m not Calabrese, or even Italian, by heritage, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of hometown pride as I read through the pages of My Calabria. Yes, it is a cookbook, but for those of us in love with Calabria, it is so, so much more.
I can’t remember how I first met Rosetta Costantino, the Calabrian-born chef responsible for the My Calabria cookbook, but I remember reading about her years before in an article called Calabria from Scratch, written by Janet Fletcher, the acclaimed food writer who would become an important ingredient in Rosetta’s success.
The two joined forces and as of Monday, November 8, you, too, can have a little piece of Calabria in your kitchen. My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South is almost 400 pages of Calabria’s history, customs and culinary traditions intermingled with recipes-and some of the most delicious food photos I’ve ever seen-for homemade, authentic Calabrian cooking.
I received my final copy of the cookbook about a week ago and my husband and father-in-law watched as I flipped through the pages. There was an excited jolt on my right and I looked up to see my husband peering across the table at the book.
“Oooh,” he said, “Pitta con Verdura. That’s a good one. We’ll make that one for sure.”
“So, it’s an authentic cookbook, then?” I grinned at him, knowing how proud the Calabresi are of their regional recipes.
“If it has pitta con verdura in it, it is. That was one of my old favorites,” he added, a tad bit wistful and no doubt thinking of the recipes his late mother, a native of San Fili in the province of Cosenza, prepared throughout his childhood.
In addition to the pitta recipe, I’m also eager to try some new antipasto recipes, particularly the eggplant meatballs and crostini with bottarga butter, vegetable dishes, like ricotta-stuffed zucchini and potatoes with artichokes and breadcrumbs and Mamma Mia …. those Christmas desserts, especially chinule, grispelle and the flourless walnut cake.
To complete the book, there is a glossary of pasta shapes, details on stocking a Calabrian pantry and a section on Calabria’s DOC wines.
My Calabria is more than you’d expect of a cookbook and reads as much like a travel guide or (interesting!) history book as a recipe list. As the jacket cover says, “it is a cookbook for our time,” but more than that, the book is a treasured testament to our Calabria.
Norton Publishing is offering three My Bella Vita readers a chance to win My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South before they can buy it!
Here are the details.
** Two cookbooks will be given away by random drawing. To be eligible-and to sign up for bonus entries-readers should:
1. Comment on this post by noon (Italian time) on Friday, November 5. (Simple, eh?)
4. All My Bella Vita newsletter subscribers will receive a bonus entry, so if you aren’t receiving either newsletter, you can sign up here.
** The third cookbook will be given away to a My Bella Vita “Liker” on Facebook.
Entries must be received by noon (Italian time) on Friday, November 5. Winners will be notified that day and will be announced on Monday, November 8 (the same day you can buy the cookbook). The contest is open to anyone with an address in North America.
In bocca al lupo!
Want to try Calabrian cuisine in Calabria? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip.
All Photos: Cooking with Rosetta