It seems safe to say that most Americans whose roots are not in Italy consider pasta the foundation of Italian cuisine (with the possible exception of those who don't see beyond pizza). There's justification in that, of course: In Italy pasta is indeed ever present, in hundreds of forms, served alone and in combination with just about any edible meat, plant, or seafood one can think of, and with an endless variety of sauces, even one named for she who practices the oldest profession.
But wait till you see the great dishes that Father Orsini has brought you from the farms and cooks of northern Italy, wonderful dishes based on-rice!
No matter what you think, rice was not brought to Italy by Marco Polo. The techniques of rice farming (and presumably some seeds or cuttings) came to Italy in the ninth century with the Arab invasion of Sicily. Rice farming prospered against great odds, thanks to the determination and hard work of Sicilian farmers and the money of the Sicilian elite. And even though Father Orsini's own roots are in the country's south, he readily concedes that northern Italy has raised cooking rice to an art.
This book will guide you through that art museum of Sicilian rice dishes, with everything from delicious soups (Minestre) to desserts (Dolci), a whole chapter on a fabulous selection of risotti (Risotto, that's right! How'd you guess?), and enough marvelous and often unsuspected rice dishes of many kinds to send you off to the store for a Great Big Bag of Rice. Father Orsini is an experienced cookbook author and an experienced chef, and his readers needn't fear that his recipes are difficult or complicated to follow. They taste really special, but the good father has made them as easy to put together as they are delicious to eat. The history of rice is a bonus for the intelligence; the recipes are the basic gift for your honest hunger. What more could you ask?
About Father Giuseppe Orsini
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Published September 1, 2005
by Thomas Dunne Books.