Naples at Table : Cooking in Campania

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9780060182618: Naples at Table : Cooking in Campania

Arthur Schwartz, popular radio host, cookbook author, and veteran restaurant critic, invites you to join him as he celebrates the food and people of Naples and Campania. Encompassing the provinces of Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, and Salerno, the internationally famous resorts of the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Ischia—and, of course, Naples itself, Italy's third largest and most exuberant city—Campania is the cradle of Italian-American cuisine.

In Naples at Table, Arthur Schwartz takes a fresh look at the region's major culinary contributions to the world—its pizza, dried pasta, seafood, and vegetable dishes, its sustaining soups and voluptuous desserts—and offers the recipes for some of Campania's lesser-known specialties as well. Always, he provides all the techniques and details you need to make them with authenticity and ease.

Naples at Table is the first cookbook in English to survey and document the cooking of this culturally important and gastronomically rich area. Schwartz spent years traveling to Naples and throughout the region, making friends, eating at their tables, working with home cooks and restaurant chefs, researching the origins of each recipe. Here, then, are recipes that reveal the truly subtle, elegant Neapolitan hand with such familiar dishes as baked ziti, eggplant parmigiana, linguine with clam sauce, and tomato sauces of all kinds.

This is the Italian food the world knows best, at its best—bold and vibrant flavors made from few ingredients, using the simplest techniques. Think Sophia Loren—and check out her recipe for Chicken Caccistora! Discover the joys of preparing a timballo like the pasta-filled pastry in the popular film Big Night. Or simply rediscover how truly delicious, satisfying, and healthful Campanian favorites can be—from vegetable dished such as stuffed peppers and garlicky greens to pasta sauces you can make while the spaghetti boils or the Neapolitans' famous long-simmered ragu, redolent with the flavors of meat and red wine. Then there's the succulent baked lamb Neapolitans love to serve to company, the lentils and pasta they make for family meals, baked pastas that go well beyond the red-sauce stereotype, their repertoire of deep-fried morsels, the pan of pork and pickled peppers so dear to Italian-American hearts, and the most delicate meatballs on earth. All are wonderfully old-fashioned and familiar, yet in hands of a Neapolitan, strikingly contemporary and ideal for today's busy cooks and nutrition-minded sybarites.

Finally, what better way to feed a sweet tooth than with a Neapolitan dessert? Ice cream and other frozen fantasies were brought to their height in Baroque Naples. Baba, the rum-soaked cake, still reigns in every pastry shop. Campamnians invented ricotta cheesecake, and Arthur Schwartz predicts that the region's easily assembled refrigerator cakes—delizie or delights—are soon going to replace tiramisu on America's tables. In any case, one bite of zuppa inglese, a Neapolitan take on English trifle, and you'll be singing "That's Amore."

A trip with Arthur Schwartz to Naples and its surrounding regions is the next best thing to being there. Join him as he presents the finest traditional and contemporary foods of the region, and shares myth, legend, history, recipes, and reminiscences with American fans, followers, and fellow lovers of all things Italian.

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Review:

Naples gave the world pizza and spaghetti with tomato sauce. In Naples at Table, Arthur Schwartz reveals the unexpected breadth and depth of dishes to be enjoyed in Naples and throughout Campania, the rich region where this culinarily underappreciated city is located.

Campania is the home of mozzarella. In fact, by Italian law, only cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo of Campania should be bear this name; the cow's-milk cheese we call mozzarella is more rightly called fior di latte, "flower of the milk."

To most people, southern Italy is the land of red sauce, from the light salsa insalata, made with raw tomatoes marinated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and basil, to hefty, long-simmered, meat-flavored ragu. Schwartz introduces us to La Genovese, an onion-based sauce Neapolitans began making centuries before the tomato arrived from the New World so they could pair it with its soul mate, pasta.

Anyone interested in Italian food will find the more than 250 recipes and the almost overwhelming wealth of information in Naples at Table fascinating. There is history, going back to the ancient Greeks, and stories as only Schwartz can recount them. One of the best is how Zuppa Inglese may have gotten its name. Discover Woodman-Style Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce and Mushrooms; lusty Baccalà "Arrecanato," a casserole of salt cod and potatoes; an authentic Zuppa Inglese; and so much more as you travel around Campania with Schwartz, meeting chefs and home cooks from Naples and Salerno, Benevento up in the mountains, out along the Amalfi coast, and the jewel-like islands of Ischia and Capri. --Dana Jacobi

About the Author:

Arthur Schwartz hosts "Food Talk," a popular New York City-based, nationally syndicated radio show, and was the longtime restaurant critic and food editor of the New York Daily News. He is the author of Cooking in a Small Kitchen, What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat, and Soup Suppers.

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