Photo from http://www.mark-leslie.net/ .
About 2 months ago I was contacted by a publicist and asked if I would read and do a book review on the book Beyond the Pasta- Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family by Mark Leslie. I quickly agreed and the publicist sent me a free copy to review. (I am not quite finished but I wanted to get this review written because this book would make a great Christmas gift for the foodies on your list. )
As I began reading this book I was very drawn in to the premise of a guy going to Italy for four weeks to learn how to cook Italian food and learn the Italian language. This would be my dream trip except I would travel to my relatives’ village and stay there for four weeks. Mark was travelling in Italy for the first time in September of 2001 and he and his travelling party were treated so kindly by the Italians during a time of crisis in the United States. The care and love he received made him want to go back and learn more of the Italian culture and language. Mark found a family in Viterbo, through an online search, that welcomes people into their home for a week’s worth of cooking and Italian language lessons but he bit the bullet and went for almost a month. That was probably the best decision he made.
Mark’s writing style is descriptive and detailed.He is honest and tells of his flubs when it comes to cultural or language mistakes. I truly felt as if I was there with Mark and the family he stayed with all while I read the book.
Each morning Mark began his day with colazione-breakfast. Then on to a cooking lesson, an afternoon meal, siesta and then the language lesson. Each evening he was taken to a different part of the Italian countryside by Alessandra and Angelo, his hosts, to take a passeggiata-or walk around the local area and find a gelateria. As they ate gelato and walked, Mark truly gained an understanding of the up close and personal Italian lifestyle. One such walk led them up a narrow street, not wide enough for more than one small compact car, only to find all the windows opened in each house and hearing all the conversations, laughter as well as arguments going on. What an experience.
The recipes are wonderful and ones that I can recreate in my own kitchen. None requires hard-to-find ingredients but then I am very into Italian cooking. I am learning a lot of the Italian language just from reading this book. I feel it’s my jumpstart to getting into formal lessons for myself.
Mark Leslie is a wonderful author and someone I would like to speak with personally about his Italian experiences. He describes what I expect to find in an Italian family in Italy. He is able to laugh at his own mistakes and learn from them.
I am so glad I was asked to read and review Beyond the Pasta. And I can’t wait to get cooking. Be sure to visit Mark at his website and check out his blog and forums.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes only. No other payment was recieved. Opinions are my own based on my thoughts of the book.