(photo: cover of My Calabria)
When I see or experience anything with a resemblance of Calabrian authenticity here in the United States I get very excited. I had a wonderful experience stumbling across Mary Palmer’s very genuine, and heartfelt, cookbook Cucina di Calabria at a used book store during my college days. Along the same lines, when I recently sampled a small artisan gelato made in Pennsylvania (Gelato di Baba) the hazelnut flavor brought me back to my childhood days strolling the streets of Reggio di Calabria with my Uncle and cousins (with gelato in hand).
Flipping through Rosetta Costantino’s new cookbook “My Calabria”, I experienced the same aforementioned sense of authenticity via her recipes, photos, and general understanding of the southernmost province in Italy.
Rosetta, a former engineer and UC-Berkley grad turned cooking instructor and author, was raised in Verbicaro, Calabria and came to the US with her family at age fourteen. Verbicaro is located near Cosenza in the northern part of Calabria and is best known as a small wine producing town.
Rosetta has organized her cookbook into ten main sections including chapters devoted to antipasti, pasta, soup/rice/polenta, bread/cheese/eggs, seafood, meat, vegetables, the Calabrian pantry, desserts, and wines of Calabria. “My Calabria” also has a wonderful introduction to the region of Calabria, including her family’s story of coming to the US. However, what I enjoyed best about Rosetta’s introductory section was an area devoted to the “key ingredients” found in most Calabrian dishes (this, in my view, is an excellent way to understand the food of Calabria, as well as the land). Rosetta, lists eleven main ingredients as essential to Calabrian cooking, including:
(photo: courtesy of Rosetta and My Calabria)
A Special Book
Rosetta gets the above ingredients correct and it’s part of what makes the book so, dyed in the wool, authentically Calabrian!
Some of my favorite dishes in the close to 400 page cookbook include, risotto con le cozze (or risotto with fresh mussels), Pesce Spada all Bagnarese (swordfish in garlicky broth, Bagnara Stle <this is the region that my family is from in Calabria!>), Salsiche Calabrese (or homemade fennel sausage Calabrian style), and Parmigiano di Zucchine (or baked zucchini layered with tomato, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano).
Rosetta ends her work with a general overview of the wines of Calabria and reminds us that homemade wine is still made by the majority of citizens in Calabria; a wonderful reminder that while the “artisan” food movement is new and held in awe in the United States it’s common place and ubiquitous in most parts of Calabria and, specifically, in the homes of everyday Calabrians. I encourage everyone to go out and buy Rosetta’s excellent work on the food of Calabria and, as my father would say, go out and make things with your hands you c
an be proud of (in this case, one of Rosetta’s dishes!).
Contest / Book Give Away
In order to spread the concept of eating the Calabrian way Rosetta and the good folks over at Norton have agreed to send a free copy of “My Calabria” to one lucky Scordo.com reader ! Here’s how you can enter the “My Calabria” cookbook giveaway contest:
– Prize Giveaway includes one (1) copy of “My Calabria.”
– What you need to do to enter: 1. leave a comment under this post on your favorite, authentic, cookbook (Italian or otherwise) and 2. become a fan of Scordo.com on Facebook (if you’re already a fan of Scordo on Facebook then please encourage all of your friends to become fans on Facebook by 1. Click Suggest to Friends, 2. Select Your Friends 3. Send the Invite.
– Only one entry per person please.
– The contest is open until 12 midnight on 11/11 and a single random user will be picked via Random.org (sorry contest only open to folks from the US given shipping logistics). The winner will be announced immediately on Twitter (so please follow me) and on Scordo.com by 5PM on Friday, 11/12.
– Please use a valid email address when leaving a comment so I can contact you just in case you’re the lucky winner (I’ll need your shipping address).
– Norton will send out the book to the single contest winner during the week of 11/15
If you must have the book right away (which I encourage) then buy the book via Amazon or head over to Bleeding Espresso where Michelle is holding a contest to win up to 4 copies of My Calabria (and increase your chances to win a copy!).