New books to enjoy: Asian cuisine and a history of Italy through wine

Consider these two recently released books for summer reading and cooking.

Modern Asian cuisine—Essential and easy recipes for ramen, dumplings, dim sum, stir-fries, rice bowls, pho, bibimbaps and more by Kat Lieu

Published by Harvard Common Press.

A lay reader unfamiliar with Asian cuisine may think he or she has entered the racy section of a bookstore when perusing the recipe titles selected in this book: Basic Onigiri Adventure, Sexy Sizzling Sisig, Bibimbap Your Way, DIY Halo-Halo Adventure. Other recipe titles can instead tap into one’s multifaceted personal imagination of hunger: Mouthwatering Tonkatsu, Blistered Yuzu Shoyu Shishito Peppers, Hong Kong Bubble Waffles, Ah Ma’s Green Papaya Salad.

Modern Asian cuisine is a linguistically engaging book as well as a tantalizing collection of diversely assembled dishes with influences from several regions/countries. The book is part of the Modern Asian series and appeals viscerally – via personal stories, as well as technically – via specific, practical cooking instructions, as well as visually – via photographs that show “how it’s done”, such as handling a wok, setting up a steamer or assembling dishes such as comme siu mai.

Author Kat Lieu learned cooking from sources including her Cantonese grandparents and was influenced by her father, who grew up in Hanoi and took her to Vietnamese restaurants in Brooklyn, as well as her mother, who cherishes Korean cuisine.

The three-column layouts are consistent and attractive and include photographs, ingredients and recipe steps. Each recipe is categorized by colorful section such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free. Measurements are provided in US/Imperial units (e.g. cups, tablespoons, ounces) as well as metric/international units (milliliters, grams). The first few pages of the chapter begin with a quote, including from well-known chefs and artists in the United States (Anthony Bourdain, Julia Child, Mitch Hedberg) as well as American/Asian personalities (Deng Ming-Dao) and characters historical (Geoffrey Chaucer).

The book embraces several Asian cultures and is colorful, engaging, informative and inspiring.

Italy in a wine glass—The history of Italy through its wines, by Marc Millon.

Published by Maison Melville.

Marc Millon, living in Devon, UK, has written over a dozen books on food, wine and travel and specializes in Italian wines. He also organizes gastronomic tours in Italy and France.

His latest book includes twenty-five chapters that span millennia of Italian history, including the eras of the Etruscans, Romans, Dark Ages, Renaissance and World Wars, and brings joy to those who love history as well as wine.

The first sentence states the basic but fundamental postulate regarding this peninsula: “The history of Italy has been linked, since its beginnings, to the history of wine. »

Take the example of the Etruscans, a mysterious people whose culture and civilization flourished between the 8th and 5th centuries BCE before being eclipsed by that of the Romans. Some of their specialized, kiln-fired bucchero pottery today shows images of decadent and ribald social gatherings, including scenes showing several types of vessels used for storing and drinking wine. Millon recounts the attractive hilltop town of Orvieto, known as Devil by the Etruscans (it was adjacent to the site of the annual “fanum voltumnae” gathering where the leaders of the central league of the twelve Etruscan cities gathered for sport, trade and festivals). The author describes how the Etruscan residents of Orvieto carved the volcanic tuff stone to create refrigerated, multi-story places where they produced wine, passing the juice by gravity from one level to the next for the fermentation then storage.

The book weaves a fascinating story with relevant wine associations. For example, Pellegrino Artusi, a cloth merchant who traveled throughout Italy and often dined in simple family restaurants, was so fascinated by the quality of the food he ate that he asked the women in these kitchens to provide him recipes, which he then assembled into a collection and self-published as a cookbook. Eventually, sales took off and Artusi’s work became not only a renowned cookbook, but also helped unify the language of the still disparate regions of what is today the Italian peninsula. The title of his book, translated by The science of cooking and the art of eating wellis still on sale and famous not only for its recipes, but also for the colorful stories of Artusi.

Millon’s book covers regions throughout Italy, including its islands.

In 1869, the island of Gorgona, off the coast of Tuscany in the Ligurian Sea, became a penal colony. This is still the case today. However, inmates here also work outside on a prison farm, growing grapes and producing truly exceptional wine from a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica grapes. I visited the island a few years ago with Lamberto Frescobaldi, of the famous winemaking family that produces Gorgona wine today and also pays inmates the same wages that non-prisoners would receive on the continent and holding similar positions. The result? Many prisoners, once released, are able to purchase a vehicle and rent a decent apartment, which significantly reduces the recidivism rate. Millon provides some interesting factual context about the island of Gorgona in this chapter and ends it, as he does all other chapters, by discussing specific wines.

Italy in a wine glass includes an index of wines by region, a bibliography and a directory of wine producers. The book educates and entertains as it takes readers across the peninsula. Like the history and wine culture of Italy, the book is diverse, multi-layered and engaging. Recommended for those who love Italian wines, history and travel.

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