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In a Roman Kitchen
cookbook reviewsin a roman kitchen
In a Roman Kitchen
by Jo Bettoja
List Price: $34.95
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Reviewed by Joelle Moles

Click Here to Buy It On Line!

November 2003
From simple, easy to follow recipes to engaging anecdotes and descriptions, a cookbook for the home chef must satisfy demanding criteria in order to set itself apart from the thousands of other cookbooks in print. The task is especially difficult when the subject is a popular one. Take, for example, Jo Bettoja's new book, In a Roman Kitchen. Roman cuisine, and especially the more general topic of Italian cuisine, is well-worn material for cookbook writing. Despite, however, the commonplace subject matter, Bettoja has succeeded in writing a delightfully interesting and useful book. What makes In a Roman Kitchen stand out from the hundreds of other cookbooks out there on similar subjects? In a cuisine where it has all "already been done," people want something new, and yet at the same time, they crave the same classic recipes. How does In A Roman Kitchen satisfy both of these requirements?

Jo Bettoja relies on her passion. Her passions for Italy, for Rome, and for the flavors of Roman cuisine are strong. The reader senses this love for Roman fare and subsequently becomes "caught up" in the excitement. From page one, Bettoja expounds on her obsession with all things Roman. Her story alone creates an enthusiasm that would be hard to conjure up on its own - born in Georgia, she landed in Italy for a modeling job and never left. Immersing herself in the Roman way of life and Roman cuisine, Bettoja threw herself into her new passion and founded what would become a world-famous cooking school. She authored a book on Southern Italian cooking and co-authored another on Italian cuisine. All of these experiences have given Bettoja an incredible wealth of knowledge and anecdotes that she has put to great use In a Roman Kitchen. Page after page is filled with stories, descriptions, and information. Certainly other cookbooks about Italian cuisine compare, but Bettoja's In a Roman Kitchen sets itself apart by the incredible passion and enthusiasm within its pages.

People crave classic recipes, recognizable flavor combinations, and food they can understand and identify with. At the same time, they want to be able to try something new or perhaps they just want to impress their friends. Bettoja satisfies both of these criteria by offering classic Italian cuisine simplified with a contemporary feel. She focuses on Roman fare that is basic enough for everyday cooking and made quite elegant by the freshness and goodness of the product. Indeed, elegance, fine dining and what ultimately impresses in this day and age often centers around the product used. Bottoja understands that properly prepared, local fresh product is exquisite and needs little to "dress it up." And as for Bottaja's base recipes, who could go wrong with classic veal scaloppini or risotto with porcini. And for the more adventurous, the fresh anchovy pie is wonderful (despite my reservations!) as well as the braised baby lamb with egg and lemon sauce. Simple and fresh, made with a passion, and oh so Roman. Jo Bettoja's In a Roman Kitchen is a worthy addition to any cookbook collection.

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