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Italy has inspired Jamie Oliver throughout his career. His ambition has always been to travel across the country on a quest to capture the very essence of Italian cooking - and to produce the best and simplest Italian cookbook for everybody to enjoy.
Jamie's Italy is a result of that journey - and it's a land of plenty. With more than 120 brand-new recipes for everything from risotto to roasts and spaghetti to stews, and structured like a traditional trattoria menu, Jamie's Italy takes you all over Italy to cook with and learn from the real masters of Italian cuisine: the locals.
Far from the standard 'lemons and olives' version of Italian cooking, it is a cookbook by the people for the people. From Sicily to Tuscany, it's about the local fishermen, family bakers and, of course, the 'Mamas', sharing their recipes and tips that have gone into their cooking for generations. But it's not only mouth-watering food that Jamie brings back home: it's also the spirit that makes cooking and eating absolutely central to family life whichever part of Italy you're in.
Bursting with the warmth and hospitality of real family life, this is both a superbly accessible cookbook and a unique travelogue and diary, in which you'll find the authentic flavour of Italy and the people who live there. If you love quality food prepared with genuine passion - you'll never want to leave Jamie's Italy.
There is little wonder in why Jamie Oliver is as popular as he has become. He obviously has personality and charm, but he also strives to make good food and make it simply.
He has succeeded.
Jamie's Italy is a culinary tour of Italy, beautifully illustrated with numerous photographs of food, landscapes and food, people and food, food and Jamie, people and Jamie and one rather intriguing photograph of Jamie and a lot of Italian women wielding large rolling pins - for a pasta competition, we are informed! There is also a photograph of a freshly slaughtered sheep, and a monograph on Jamie's reasoning for using this photo, and despite being a vegetarian, I can understand his logic and applaud his decision for printing it; it should make people aware of where their food has come from, and just how divorced from reality many people are regarding the source of their meat.
The recipes are clearly written and laid out, so clearly in fact, I would have no hesitation in letting my eight year old daughter loose in the kitchen - ok, so she is far more proficient with the pasta machine than I am (only from watching her hero, Jamie Oliver), and there are a number my daughter wishes to try soon, and of course, I will let her.
So what, you may ask, would a vegetarian be interested in Jamie's Book for? Well, most of the recipes are actually vegetarian, others can be made vegetarian by leaving out anchovies, and rather conveniently, in the index a 'v' marks all the vegetarian recipes.
What more could one need? A recipe book that would appeal to the majority of people coming to your house for dinner, and a single vegetarian amongst them, allowing you to create your masterpiece to appeal to everyone.
All in all, Jamie's book will be an asset to anyone's bookshelf, and none of the recipes will have that dated feel to them in twenty years time. The recipes are classic, simple, timeless and above all, tasty.
Full marks to Jamie in yet another fantastic book. I can't wait to see the television program that has been filmed to accompany the book.
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"The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds."
Mark Twain (1835-1910)