Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia

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Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia

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Category: Cookery
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The sort of food which you eat on the move or leaning against the bar. It doesn't aim to be healthy, but boy, it tastes good!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Smith Street Books
ISBN: 978-1925418187

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Books about Italian food are everywhere, with recipes for pizza, pasta dishes and all the usual suspects. In a winter which seems to be starting hard all too early what I wanted was sunshine - and the sort of food which you find on the Italian streets and in those bars which only the locals know about. It's the sort of food which you eat on the move, or leaning against the bar - tables and chairs don't usually come into the equation. For the most part it doesn't aspire to being healthy - frying plays a larger part than it does in a virtuous diet and it is a little short on fruit and veg - but we can all be a bit naughty on occasions, can't we?

You get 85 recipes in Italian Street Food and for the most part they're traditional as opposed to the classic Italian dishes we all know and love. Some are extensions of the classic dishes, such as the pizzette - the bite-sized mini pizzas which you see piled up in bars. There's an explanation of how to make the base (very simple - it's plain flour, instant dried yeast, olive oil, tepid water, salt and butter) and then you're given five toppings. Tomato and mozzarella are the ones which you'll find most often in bars, but I took Paola Bacchia's suggestion and made some of each variety from one lot of pizzette dough. The favourite was gorgonzola and mushroom. Joint second were the tomato and mozzarella with the potato and onion (remember to slice the potato very thinly or it can be a little heavy) but none of the tomato and anchovy or sausage, courgette and mozzarella were left!

Of the fried savoury snacks I liked the chickpea fritters the best, but I suspect that Frico - a potato and cheese pancake (rather like a cheese and potato tortilla, but without eggs) - is the lunch dish I'll return to most often. It goes well with a glass of red wine. There are few ingredients - olive oil, onion, potato and cheese - but you might have trouble getting the recommended cheese. A pecorino seemed to work, but obviously isn't the traditional way of making the dish. The panini section is where you'll find the sandwiches - and where I found the greens I crave in cassone verdi, a flatbread filled with spinach, spring onions, parsley, nutmeg and parmesan.

The fish section left my mouth watering and the recipe which really took my fancy was the fritto misto di pesce in cono - mixed fried fish in a paper cone. It's ideal with freshly caught fish, but I do think it would be best eaten on the beach. The author suggest Rimini - for me it's more likely to be Whitby! I rarely eat red meat, but those who do indulge tell me that there are some very tasty recipes in the meat section.

I do eat bread though and the focaccia barese is just to my taste. The dough is made with potatoes and it studded with tomatoes and olives. I could eat that on a daily basis. Puffed cheese bites are on the list to try and I'm very taken with the idea of crescentine - pan-cooked flatbreads which you could fill with prosciutto or a soft cheese.

The sweet treats section looks very tempting, with some classic dishes such as rum baba. I wasn't quite certain why potato fritters with aniseed was with the sweets until I read the recipe, which does contain sugar and sultanas. That's on the list of 'might try one day...' Italy's the home of ice cream and there are some real treats here. I wondered about panettone ice cream until I read that it doesn't actually contain panettone, but just the flavours. The pear and rosewater ice cream will need a light hand with the rosewater, but perhaps the most indulgent treat is the hot chocolate with ice cream.

There's some delicious food in this book, which is beautifully presented. I normally get quite annoyed with all the pictures in cookery books - particularly when they're not just of the finished dishes - but this time I made an exception and the glorious images brought some much-needed sunshine into the kitchen.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi.

Buy Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia at

Buy Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia at


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