I was lucky to receive a review copy of Pamela’s new book, Cucina Povera, Tuscan Peasant Cooking.
Pamela has a true passion for Italy and this book, her 16th I believe, is a tribute to the people that have taught us so much. The book is a pleasure to read. I kept it near my bed as reading material first before bringing it to my kitchen. The photographs and stories are as compelling as the recipes. I adore the way the book was printed. The size of the book, the paper used and the photographs.
Pamela and I have had many of the same experiences, gathering recipes from the locals which still preserve traditions. Those that have never written down these recipes. It is a wonderful collection of simple real food, which is only found in homes.
There are so many great recipes I wanted to try and write about,but when I went out to lunch the other day in my village I ate a dish which i remembered being in the book and came home to recreate it.
Tuscans are called Mangiafagioli, bean-eaters. Beans and grains have been the protein for years, especially around the area of Lucca. The dish I ate the other day was called Cacciucco di Ceci, chickpea Cacciucco. The recipe replaces the fish in the fish soup, with chickpeas. There is a similar recipe called Inzimino, which is a squid stew with chard and tomatoes.
In Pamela’s book, the recipe she uses is called Ceci Stufati. So many recipes change names and perhaps one or two ingredients just by moving a few miles. This is the beauty of Italian cooking, each mother or chef puts their twist on a recipe, mostly based on what is available locally or at the moment. This stew is made more like the fish stew by adding a tiny bit of anchovy to the recipe. A simple way to build flavor.
From Cucina Povera, Pamela Sheldon Johns
It is easy to make with precooked chickpeas too, which makes it an easy quick dish to prepare. If you don’t like anchovies, leave them out.
What is important is to cook with the best ingredients you can find and keep it simple!
Thanks Pamela for tracking down these recipes and the stories of the people that continue to pass on the traditions.
To order the book, use the link on Pamela’s website. HERE