As KCM (my roommate in Firenze) knows - NOTHING compares to Mama Giovanna's cena (made with love and LOTS of pesto). When I was studying abroad in Florence, I would literally wake up in the morning and think "ummm i can't wait until dinner!" Maybe thats why I later had an issue fitting into my jeans!
Anyway... as I basically ate my way through Italy (and the rest of Europe for that matter), I have a nostalgic love for Italian cooking. It brings back so many good memories.... Dinner at Ciak on the coast with fresh mussels and heaps of pasta, speaking Italian with my cousins in Orte while we had the very best polenta, countless bowls of garlic bread and pasta primavera in Roma......
Though it will be a while until I make it back to Italy, I am after this new book by Rizzoli publishers called: La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy in an effort to recreate culinary memories and show my friends I love them with pesto, ravioli, and tiramisu!
Here is an introduction to the book by the publishers:
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy's more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes--many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat - 2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it's not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkles throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes. with simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook's library."