Oh what treasures both Food & Memories of Abruzzo and Anna Teresa Callen are. If at any point back in London I am feeling cold and a bit grey and want to rekindle the tastes of Abruzzo it is her recipe book that I pull out.
Anna Callen was formerly an archaeologist before she became a famous Italian Chef over in the States and the way she delicately weaves her own personal story of growing up in Guardiagrele with the history of Abruzzo is enchanting. Each recipe is given a context for the reason it was created: the seasons, mingled with religion, superstition and the poverty that the farmers, shepherds & peasants of Abruzzo fought against over the centuries. It allows you not just to cook with love but also be able to imagine all sorts of stories whilst chopping and deliver a little story to those that are gladly eating as a result of Anna Teresa’s superb recipes.
The recipes are simple, authentic and very easy to follow. When the original ingredients (such as types & cuts meat or fish) are not always readily available in those more prissy, prim, Anglicized countries where shopping is at the local supermarket rather than open air market, she recommends helpful alternatives. What is wonderful is not just the seasonality of her recipes but that nothing is wasted; she has recommendations for leftovers &c. (i.e. too much of a pasta sauce keep it for stuffing some tortellini etc later on in the week etc.).
She does not lecture about pasta fresca recognising that we do not always have the time or inclination to sit rolling pasta on our return from work…phew! The only very slightly annoying thing about the book is the index which is all in English so that the dishes you have tried so hard to remember the names of from the preceding pages aren’t listed, instead you need to waddle through a category to try and find them, but as said it’s so beautifully written that is hardly a chore.