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?)

2. For additional entries, “Like” both My Calabria and My Bella Vita on Facebook and leave a separate message in the comments telling me you did.

3. Follow My Calabria and My Bella Vita on Twitter for a third entry (and leave another comment telling us.)

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

65 Responses
  1. Entry comment #1 πŸ˜‰ I am intrigued by this book and I collect Italian cookbooks, so please include me in the drawing!

    You are in. You’d really love this one, Annika. It is so thorough!

  2. Crepi!

    Thank you for the give away πŸ™‚ I’ve been eating out so much, I’d love to stay in and learn to improve my Italian cooking skills a little more!

    And Calabrian food is so good (and easy!)

  3. I would love a chance to win this wonderful book.. even though I have never been to your area, I love Italy and the wonderful foods they have to offer.

    Well good luck then. Maybe seeing this cookbook will encourage you to visit us in Calabria!

  4. Mary Kaltenbach

    I love cook books and I do not currently own an Italian cookbook!! I would love to, tho!! I enjoy reading my Bella Vita! It makes me want to travel again!

    Thanks, Mary!

  5. Christine

    Would love this book – both my family and my husband’s family come from Calabria and I would love to share traditional foods with our children!

    Oooh, good luck!

  6. Denise Blackman

    Thank you for offering this new cookbook to your followers! I love Italian cookbooks and the ones with history and lifestyle are among my favorites!!

    Prego, Denise. I love cookbooks like that (this), too.

  7. Bonnie in Alaska

    I’ve already been a “like” for both, get the newsletter but don’t twitter so I’m not sure if you have to do everything to be eligible. I would love to win the cookbook. My grandmother was born in Naples but her family may have come from Calabria. It is on our list of places to visit.

    Nope, you are entered! Good luck!

  8. Peter

    I can’t wait for my copy. I’ve actually already ordered it from The Book Depository. Nice to see though that you’re giving away three books to someone lucky.

    Fun! Let me know what you think about it once you receive it!

  9. Paula Aiello

    I’m Sicilian, but Calabrese is close enough! Let’s hear it for Southern food! A mangiare!

    Can I get a “whoop whoop?!?”

  10. Salvatore

    My parents immigrated from Calabria (villages near Cosenza) to Spokane, WA where I live. I grew up speaking the Calabrian dialect. My mom and our Calabrian circle of friends have remained faithful to tradtional Calabrian recipes, so I know the foods very well. Such things as baccala at Christmas to Easter bread with religious designs. I have many relatives in Calabria and have visited them a few times. We stay in close touch by telephone and e-mail.

    Please enter me in the contest !!

    You’d love this cookbook … esp since it has a strong focus on province of Cosenza!

  11. Judy Mancuso

    Cherrye and Peppe helped to make it possible for my husband’s dream to come true by arranging for us to have a translator/guide to locate his ancestors in Sersale, located in the Calabria Region. This was a moving experience and we can’t thank them enough….then, too, being introduced to the Calabrese cuisine… It would be great to complete this magnificent experience by bringing home (to the land of paradise) this wonderful cookbook. Hey folks……let Cherrye help plan a great tip for you…you won’t be disappointed.

    Wow, Judy. I’m blushing … thank you so much. I might have to pull some of this for my testimonials page. πŸ™‚

    1. Judy Mancuso

      @Judy Mancuso, Cherrye, I would be honored to have you use any of my comments on your testimonial page. And…I have only just begun as I’m still unwinding from this great trip. More great comments to come….just as a sneak peak…the Calabria region was by far our favorite of all of Italy….Hope I enticed some of you to take the leap and go visit…It is not like any other part of Italy and I don’t think you will be disappointed, especially if you have Cherrye and Peppe help you with your plans. Aloha all!

      He he, thanks, Judy. I’m virtually blushing. πŸ™‚

  12. Imani

    Hey Mamma to be! The only time I ever won anything was in the 5th grade and my prize was a Saint Christopher medal.

    But the book seems interesting so I ordered two from Amazon. One for here in the USA and one for when I am in Brescia.

    Hope all is well with you “soon-to-be-three” :-).

    Imani and Alberto

    He he, thanks you guys. I’m like you, Imani. I NEVER win a giveaway. Good luck the same … .

  13. The Calabrian food that I had this August was the best food of my life. I would love to get my hands on that cookbook!

    Hopefully you’ll get that chance!

  14. Marcia Patitucci Waffner

    Please enter my name for the cookbook drawing. My family is from Calabria – my grandmother is from Catanzaro! I want to see it! Grazie!

    Woo hoo for Catanzaro! Good luck in the drawing.

  15. Ciao Bella!

    This is fun! I’m missing Italy. We’ve been twice in the last 11 months.
    Our passports are somewhere in the system awaiting renewal.

    Any Simioni or Busuito families in your area that you know of? We’ll be on another “Giro di Simioni” and starting a “Giro di Busuito” (MY ancestors/Sicily)soon.
    Facebook and been a wonderful, and fun way to find our roots!

    Hope your passports come in soon! I don’t know any Simioni, but they might be around here. πŸ˜‰

  16. I have roots in Soverato and enjoy your emails. We hope to spend a month there in May and we will definitely stop to meet you. Best of Luck with your book.

    Well you will be just down the road, won’t you? Thanks for the comment. Just to be clear, I just reviewed the book and am doing a giveaway. The chef/author is Rosetta Cosentino.

  17. Beth

    I already ‘Like’ (love!) MBV & My Calabria, and subscribe to both, plus follow MBV on Twitter, so I just have to follow My Calabria! I love finding authentic Italian recipes to try and learning more about Italia, my Grandfather’s home, so this cookbook sounds perfect! :o)

    Thank you so much! This cookbook sounds perfect for you.

  18. Liliane Pucci

    My Italian upbringing gave me a great love for all things Italian. I dream of someday visiting my late Mom’s birth home of Avolino. I have many Italian cookbooks, but this one would be a gem in my collection! Please add my name to your cookbook giveaway!!!!!

    You are IN!

  19. Liliane Pucci

    I like and have liked both your pages on facebook as well as following you regularly on Twitter. Your newsletter is always a welcome sight in my mailbox!!! I hope I can win in your giveaway, but if I don’t, I’ll have to procure me a copy soon!

    Awe, thanks for the feedback on the newsletter. I’m glad you enjoy it. You are entered!

  20. Keith

    Loved the post Cherrye. I’m very intrigued with the book, as
    there aren’t too many books dedicated to Calabrese cuisine. I
    even have a family line that originates from San Fili. It’s a
    great opportunity to rediscover “roots” and the richness of Calabrese culture. Please enter me for the drawing.

    You are entered! Thanks for stopping by.

  21. maria repice

    We have relatives in Calabria and had an amazing time visiting them during the summer of 2009. I would love to have this cookbook as I don’t have one focusing specifically on southern Italian cusine.

    I’m so glad to hear you had fun! Good luck with the drawing.

  22. Carol

    My next trip is going to be to Italy’s countryside and I would love to learn some of these dishes before going.

    Good luck in the drawing.

  23. Terry Simpson

    I have only one Calabrian cookbook (Cucina de Calabria) written by a friend of mine. It’s a great book but My Calabria sounds even better. Have to have it! I am an avid cookbook collector & am anxious to add this one to my collection.

    In bocca al lupo!

  24. Joyce

    I visited Calabria last year with a friend whose grandfather was from Calabria (Maida). Fantastic trip and some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. I still drool over the memory of a plate of spaghetti al nero di seppia I enjoyed in Scilla. I’d love to try and recreate some of the wonderful Calabrese dishes I enjoyed. I am excited about this book!

    Just wanted to mention that aside from the food and natural, unspoiled beauty of Calabria, the people were so friendly and welcoming. Not to mention patient with my extremely limited ability to communicate in Italian!

    All the reasons I love Calabria!

  25. Susan

    I had a sneak peak on Amazon and looked through it…fantastic…and I actually copied the cured olives recipe and already made them and they are perfect. Their taste transports me back to Brooklyn in my grandparent’s house..thank you for that memory. I am hoping someone will buy it for me for Christmas but just in case, I want to be in the drawing too πŸ™‚


    You are in, Susan. Good luck!

  26. Nell

    Well if all goes well I may win but ,that not happening I guess I buy it on line.
    That’s quite errie that theres a recipie for those olives, I was just saying to my husband, I miss the olives my dad used to make and preserve , I wish I’d paid better attention.

    Sounds serendipitous to me!

  27. Debbie D

    Can’t wait to get your book. Will you be doing signings only in the bay area or will you be going to other parts of California?

    Thanks for your comment, Debbie. The chef/author is actually Rosetta Cosentino. Here is a list of her book signings.

  28. Cindy Salazar

    I loved the food wwhen I was in Italy. I would love to read these recipes to take me back to that crazy summer.

    Good luck, Cindy!

  29. Charlee

    Sign me up! Then I can cook for myself all of the yummy dishes you and Pep cook when you are in Texas!

    Hmmm … that’ll take years of practice, little sister. πŸ˜‰ Just joking. Thanks for signing up for my newsletter. So funny you never read it before!

  30. I already like my Bella Vita on FB but have now liked your book. With this comment (and I’m a follower here) does that make 3 entries?????

    Congrats on the book, I look forward to reading whether I win or buy it myself πŸ˜€

    This comment is one entry. You should leave a separate comment telling me that you liked “My Calabria” on FB for a second entry. Thanks so much for playing along!

  31. Daveytwomeals

    With Mum from Plati and Dad from San Donato, I must at least be in with a chance.
    Keep the blogs coming.

    I’d say that helps! πŸ™‚

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