by Coleman Andrews

Chronicle Books, $50.00, 392 pages

The Country Cooking of Italy is a delight. Filled with beautiful pictures, this hefty volume contains a wealth of authentic Italian recipes as well as amusing anecdotes, Italian history, and a list of sources for finding unusual ingredients. The layout of this cookbook is somewhat chaotic and cooks who are just beginning their culinary adventures may find it a bit overwhelming. Instructions are mixed in with stories and suggestions, prep/cooking time must be estimated by the reader, and the pictures, while exquisite, are not always relevant to the recipe at hand. In addition, many of the recipes require a fair amount of planning as some of the more unusual ingredients will need to be ordered at the local butcher or purchased at a specialty grocery store.

That being said, the stories are charming, the suggestions are useful, and the recipes themselves are excellent. From basic and beautiful pesto to mouthwatering crostata di marmellata, these recipes exemplify the simplicity that makes traditional Italian cooking so wonderful. Colman Andrews has once again created an accessible, authentic, and thoroughly satisfying cookbook.

Elizabeth Goss