Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Book Review: Eating Rome
From my fall reading list, I read Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchilli and loved it. Sometimes reading a book is like chatting with a friend and this is the case with Eating Rome. She's down-to-earth and the book flows quickly. Plus, you're drawn to the author because she's so passionate about her subject. I would turn to this friend for her expertise. Each chapter starts with a story about a meal, food, or lesson often featuring a 'how to' guide or a run-down of the rules (oh, the Italians and their rules!), is followed by restaurant recommendations and ends with recipes. Her book covers a range of topics plus it's an insider's guide. For a more authentic experience, this book would be wonderful to read before visiting Rome. In fact, I think I will take notes from it whenever I draft my own itinerary for this city.
By living in the eternal city a long time and being fully immersed in the Italian culture, she came to know Italians well. I can relate to her perspective since she is American-born. Her anecdotes are entertaining. They reminded me of my old study abroad days... Especially when I declined being served a certain kind of beverage (think grappa), the Italians became so concerned about the opening or closing of my stomach during a meal. I kept thoughts such as, "I think my stomach knows what to do when I eat..." to myself.
Being a picky eater myself, even though Italian cuisine is my favorite, I still don't know a lot about it. I wish that the author would have provided a bit more explanation about several foods than she did. I can't say, however, that I was completely stumped since I could figure it out in the context. I do recommend the kindle version, so that if the word is in English, you can tap the term and a dictionary-style definition will pop up. This book might be geared towards an Italophile. For example, even though she used the term throughout the book, she doesn't define guanciale as "cured pork jowl" until halfway through. Not that she doesn't go into great detail, she does. She notes which specific dish she always orders at a certain restaurant during a particular time of year and even what could possibly go wrong in making a dish.
I'm not exactly sure if I should completely trust the author on her taste though... She fancies to feast upon... offal, which means 'organs.' On the other hand, Elizabeth does savor gelato and apertivo (a happy hour (bitter) drink and accompanying snack usually served buffet-style). Perhaps I should give a recipe a try before I judge...
I recommend this book for its charm and expertise as well as making me want to hop on a plane and land at Fiumicino (also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome)! Don't leave Rome without it!