On a whim I scooped this one up today off the 'new' books stacks at work. I love watching the Sopranos, which if you haven't heard, is a very strange look at modern America through the eyes of a mobster family. And like most families, one of the topics here is Food.
Specifically, southern Italian, heavy on the cheese, pasta and tomato sauce variety. That's ok, this is food that sooths, and brings back happy memories. Or, in the case of the Sopranos, some not too happy memories.
Told as a journey down memory lane by the character of Artie Bucco himself, the owner and principal chef at the Nuovo Vesuvio, we get various interviews from various characters from the series. From AJ's three pop tarts and a Coke breakfast, to Meadow's self-absorbed fears of getting fat, Carmela's tips on having a party, to Adriana's guide to a sexy night out, it's giggle from start to finish. The men wiegh in as well, with Junior's memories of life with Tony's dad, a screamingly funny bit from sister Janice to Tony's rules for grilling. (Lighter fluid is for sissies) And of course, Furio's take on American cuisine. Even Dr. Melfi joins the fun with a paper on the eating habits and styles of Italian-Americans.
So, besides the in-jokes for followers of the series, there's also plenty of family style recipes. Some are pretty basic, from 'Sunday Gravy' -- a very rich meat and tomato sauce, to a cholestrol heavy Baked Ziti with meatballs, various zuppe or soups, and plenty of hearty meals. Photographs in lush, mouthwatering detail accompany most of the recipes -- the one of the standing rib roast made me drool, and I'm going to try very hard not to enthuse about the cannoli shot. Most of the recipes are fairly basic, relying on fresh ingredients and simple techniques, and a minimum of fancy equipment that you need beside cannoli shapers and a pasta machine.
Trust me, homemade pasta is still the best. What I really like is the author, Alan Ruddick, took the time with this one to stay true to each character as they are in the series, slang and attitude and all ? it's a giggle from start to finish, and some of the photographs are screamingly funny ? especially the one of Tony and the barbeque.
(and for fans, the endpapers of this oversize book is a hoot -- nothing less than Livia trying to burn down her kitchen...)