There is no denying English-speakers are falling in love with southern Italian cooking. Those seasonal ingredients, creative seafood dishes, spicy peppers, fresh lemons and world-class olive oil leave a lasting impression on travelers who are often anxious to recreate these plates back home. Today, Laura Thayer of Ciao Amalfi! is offering her review of a southern Italian cookbook that focuses on the unforgettable cuisine of her newly adopted home-The Amalfi Coast.
I fell in love with southern Italian cooking on my first trip to the Amalfi Coast three years ago. The simple and quick pasta sauces, grilled fish served with just a drizzle of olive oil, fresh mozzarella di bufala with sun-ripened tomatoes and basil – everything was down-to-earth and emphasized the individual flavors and fresh ingredients. Since moving to the Amalfi Coast, this love affair has continued as I have learned about and experimented with traditional dishes. I’ve picked up a few tips here and there from cookbooks and, more often, from the kitchens of family and friends.
Yet, the greatest insight I’ve had into the regional cooking of the Amalfi Coast is from the cookbook Mamma Agata – Simple and Genuine Italian Family Recipes. This gorgeous cookbook is by Chiara Lima, the Director of the Mamma Agata Cooking School on the Amalfi Coast. Chiara has gathered not only her mother Agata’s recipes, but also the history of her beautiful family.
This book is a pleasure to read, and along the way you meet Mamma Agata, her husband Salvatore, their daughter Chiara and her husband, Gennaro, and their lovely children Mario and Paola. The beautiful photographs throughout the book exude a warmth and love that carries over into the recipes. Chiara writes, “We believe deeply that cooking is love,” and this passion is evident on each and every page of her cookbook.
The recipes shared in Mamma Agata – Simple and Genuine can truly be called home cooking from the Amalfi Coast. But not just any home cooking – Mamma Agata’s famous home cooking! Opening this cookbook—illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs—feels like you’ve just stepped into the kitchen with Mamma Agata and her delightful daughter Chiara. They walk you through the preparation of each recipe with step by step directions and photographs.
For me to love a cookbook it has to be more than a list of recipes to follow. There has to be passion and a story, and Mamma Agata – Simple and Genuine tells a story of love and one family’s way of life on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a testament to their desire to share the simple and genuine cooking from this beautiful part of Italy with others through their cooking school and this beautiful cookbook. If you love Italian cooking, especially southern Italian, this book is a must for your pantry library.
Laura Thayer is an art historian and freelance writer living on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Italy. She is the Amalfi Coast Local Expert for NileGuide and blogs about life on the Amalfi Coast at her own site Ciao Amalfi.
Traveling to southern Italy? Why not get coached on when and where to go by someone who lives there?
Photos: Mamma Agata Cooking School