Without an understanding of tradition, you cannot make real Italian food!
Lucio Galletto grew up in a village on the Ligurian coast of Italy, where his parents had a restaurant. In The Art of Traditional Italian, he celebrates La Cucina Italiana: the flavours, the history and the techniques of Italian cuisine, perfected over centuries. All you favourites are here – vitello tonnato, spring minestrone, risotto alla milanese, eggplant parmigiana, veal saltimbocca and tiramisu, along with many more classic dishes you'll wish you'd tried sooner.
This book is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds – original artworks from some of Australia's finest artists accompany the recipes in this exciting collaboration between Lucio and the long-time friends whose art famously lines the walls of his Sydney restaurant, Lucio's. This is food from the heart – passionate, generous and authentic.
Lucio's eponymous restaurant is famously lined with artworks by some of Australia's most accomplished artists, and this book follows suit - each chapter features original artwork from one of his artist friends. A feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds, this glorious book will become a treasured addition to the shelves of cooks and artists everywhere.
About the Author
Restaurateur Lucio Galletto has been serving sophisticated Italian food to media and political luminaries and artists (whose work lines the walls of his restaurant, Lucio's) for well over 25 years. He came to Australia from Liguria in 1977 from a family of restaurateurs, and has been proudly continuing the family tradition of great hospitality ever since.
In 2008 Lucio was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community through his contributions as a restaurateur and author, and his support of arts organisations.
His books include The Art of Pasta, Soffritto and Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen (all written with David Dale) and The Art of Food at Lucio's (with Timothy Fisher).
Memories! Memories of youth. Memories of my roots. Memories of the smells coming from the kitchen. The nostalgic, particular flavour and aroma of a dish my mother and grandmother used to prepare for the family, made with a passion that inspired so much tenderness, love and serenity. Yes, we were eating because we were hungry, and their cooking certainly wasn't gastronomy, but in later years I understood that the celebration of the produce of each season was a clear reminder of civility and culture. And I came to realise that cooking is one of the most civil of pleasures!
It is this respect for the freshness of ingredients, regionality and tradition – and, of course, my passion for food and love of people – that inspired me to write this book. Not to mention the fact that I feel as if the more we experiment to find something new, the more we discover that what we actually yearn for are those old traditional flavours of our grandmothers' cooking. As we become increasingly preoccupied with the provenance and freshness of our ingredients, we get closer and closer to the real peasant way of looking at food, where hardly anything is bought, because everything comes from just outside the front or back door.
And so it was with my family. I remember watching my father come back from our vegetable garden on a hot summer's day, carrying some wonderful tomatoes, cucumber, basil and red onions. He never cooked, but with these simple, incredibly fresh ingredients he made a stunning salad. Of course, as a kid I refused to eat it, only appreciating it many years later, when I put it on the menu at Lucio's as insalata di papà.
The classic Cucina Italiana, which is essentially a regional cuisine, developed through centuries of political change, poverty and domination by other cultures. But probably the most significant impact came with the discovery of the New World, and the subsequent introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, corn and a variety of beans to the markets. All ingredients that go very well with Italian cooking, to the extent that now, two centuries later, it feels as if they belong more to Italy than the Americas!
The south went more for tomatoes, chillies and capsicums, which grow better in the warmer weather and marry wonderfully with their Mediterranean-style dishes. The north went for potatoes, corn and beans, which generations of creative cooks have transformed into gnocchi, polenta and nourishing soups, all perfectly suited to the cooler climate. But the thing that unites the north and the south is passion: passion for quality ingredients; passion for pasta; and passion for conviviality. The regional diversity, extreme simplicity and seasonality is what makes La Cucina Italiana so special, and so loved and appreciated the world over.
As more and more people are discovering or re-discovering the pleasures of cooking, the kitchen and dining room are again becoming our chosen places to entertain. To my mind, there are very few people who can invent something completely new in the kitchen – and even then, most of the time they are just rearranging traditional recipes. So, let's leave our inventiveness aside for now and concentrate on the Italian regional cuisine that took centuries to perfect . . . and it is perfect!
Traditional Italian food is unsurpassed for creating incredible flavours using simple, local produce chosen and cooked with care. Always serve good bread with an Italian meal, and leave it on the table so everyone can help themselves at any stage of the meal. I am a firm believer that bread should be made by the fornai (bakers), not at home, so seek out a traditional Italian bakery, and visit often.
For me, the art of cooking has always been inseparable from the art of hospitality, and over more than 30 years at Lucio's, we have welcomed artists to our restaurant and proudly hung their works on our walls. So when we started gathering recipes for a new cookbook, it seemed only natural that art would share the pages with food. The artists were each given a chapter or other element of the book, and were then free to respond to the recipes and stories in any way they liked. The results exceeded anything I could have hoped for. The title I have chosen for the book then, The Art of Traditional Italian, is not only in recognition of this extraordinary collaboration with so many of my artist friends, but is also in homage to the early cookbooks like La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiare bene ('Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well') and a time when cooking first started to be considered an art.
My hope is that the traditional food shared in these pages will not only be respected and remembered, but also that it will inspire you to pass the recipes on to the next generation with pride and love, so we can build up new memories. Enjoy the book.
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 22nd October 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 29.4 x 24.0 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 29.4
Edition Number: 1