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Uneasy people with nascent, health-related resolutions dreading warmed-over, calorie controlled frozen dinners should know that the Mediterranean diet, with its super-fresh foods filled with advantageous fats, is a healthy, appetizing alternative. Here to help is the four-piece Italian Pantry Collection published in North America by The Wine Appreciation Guild and scheduled for release in February. All four books, Olive Oil, Pasta, Cheese and Prosciutto, are filled with vibrant, full-color photographs and are written by native food writers and cooking instructors. Each distinct food is coupled with a recipe, a map pointing out its production zone, nutritional information, its constituents, uses, variations and flavor. The authors also tell the life-story, part history part lore, of Italy's four most famous foodstuffs.
The old but never stale favorite is followed from its still controversial origins to its position as the most familiar "ethnic food" in the US. Fabrizio Ungaro introduces 35 different types of the seemingly simple stuff (pasta made with squid's ink?), from the common spaghetti and penne to the atypical regional pastas like bigoli and pizzocheri. The author gives a quick course in the intricacies of in-home pasta making (spaghetti, tortellini, raviolii and agnolotti) and pasta sauces.
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