I love cookbooks even if they’re just for show because there is something about the beautiful photography, the way the author talks about the dishes, and of course the recipes themselves. I’ll be honest… I have a few cookbooks that I have never made anything from. One of them I like to just look at because it has awesome pics and really the recipes are rather difficult!
The most recent one that I read though wasn’t just a cookbook. Beyond the Pasta was a memoir of sorts that follows the time that author, Mark Leslie, spent living with the Stefani family in Italy. It was there that he learned to cook & speak in the Italian way as well as become immersed in the day to day lives of the family he came to love as his own.
This paragraph from the book really stood out and captured the way of life he described throughout the book and how it really differs drastically from daily life here in the U.S.
Italians could become rushed as we are and no longer take moments to enjoy una passeggiata, un gelato or una siesta. La dolce vita celebrates the fact that life is not only about a paycheck, or bing able to get a hamburger and fries at 2:00am, or having to work throughout the night restocking grocery store shelves or going to the all-night gym. Life is about savoring the sunset, taking a rejuvenating nap in the middle of the day, pausing to appreciate the beauty of a rose on the side of the road, having your children’s laughter fill your soul – letting those moments inspire your life.
The book is broken up into chapters, one for each day that he is in Italy, and at the end of each chapter there is a recipe that Mark made with nonna. Each recipe is exactly the way that they made it for one of their meals and is a simple family dish. There are so many that I can’t wait to try out but I think that one of the first ones I want to try are the Sicilian Rice Balls… if they turn out I’ll share it with you!
I loved reading this book for so many reasons. I felt like I was able to experience life with an Italian family right along side Mark and become immersed with their lives. I fell in love with the way their meals were prepared, served, and how things are so incredibly different than they are here in America.
There is a lot of attention to detail, time with family, quality of the food being prepared, and there never seems to be rushing around. It’s almost like being in a different time where the focus was on the family and being together. Not that we don’t value that here in America but we are always in a rush and have so much to do that I don’t think we slow down to really enjoy life.
I was almost sad to see Mark’s time with the Stefani family end because that meant the book too would end. One day I will visit Italy and visit all the places he mentioned and then those where my family is from.
Beyond the Pasta ended up being so much more than I had thought it would be and a lot better than I had expected!
I received a copy of Beyond the Pasta through Net Galley for review. And as always all of the thoughts and opinions are all my own.