David Rocco on his cookbook, Made in Italy

First aired on Fresh Air (25/2/12)

david-rocco-175.jpgDavid Rocco, host of the popular TV series David Rocco's Dolce Vita on the Food Network, dropped by Fresh Air recently to chat about his latest cookbook, Made In Italy , and some of its mouth-watering recipes.

The book is based on family recipes, with an emphasis on cucina povera, or simple, peasant cuisine. "Something Italians do really well is their commitment to food tradition. When it comes to food, they do it right," Rocco said.

To research the book, Rocco went on a road trip through some of his favourite regions of Italy, including Tuscany, the Almalfi Coast and Sicily. He found that people weren't at all secretive about their recipes. "People, they would open up their kitchens, it wasn't about a secret ... it was just this love for food and love for sharing it with people."

Rocco emphasized the regard for culinary tradition and the sense of pride that people have in their local cuisine. "You know, sometimes we have this philosophy, we know more than our parents or our grandparents on something. And you know what, they're saying no, that's how they've done it for 200 years, It's gone through the test of time and why change it?"

Some of the simplest dishes, Rocco pointed out, are also the tastiest. One of his favourites is the Neapolitan version of caponata, which combines bread, olive oil and cherry tomatoes.

Made in Italy features two pages of basic cooking instructions, including on how to cook pasta properly. "Cook it al dente and finish cooking it in the sauce," Rocco said. "The starches have to come out, and it's really about the sauce clinging to the noodles."

He added, laughing, "To cook pasta right is probably the most important life skill."

Made in Italy.jpg

Made in Italy

by David Rocco

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From the publisher:

"Lush, gorgeous and completely engaging, Made in Italy takes up where Dolce Vita left off, giving us a full-on appreciation of all things Italian. Food and style go hand in hand in David Rocco's world, be it in his television series or his cookbooks, and Made in Italy is no exception. Gorgeous location photography puts the reader right into the scene, offering atmosphere to die for. Over two hundred extraordinary recipes, offering simple, delicious fare from all over Italy, make this cookbook utterly desirable for any food lover and cook. For the armchair traveller and pleasure-seeking gourmand, Made in Italy is a trip worth taking."

HarperCollins Canada.