Eating Up Italy

Published in Gourmet Live 10.31.12
We're celebrating all things Italian with a conversation with one of Hollywood's biggest food lovers, Stanley Tucci; regional Italian pasta, chicken, and dessert recipes; and a spotlight on amazing olive oil
Eating Up Italy

Il Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Florence) and Florence city skyline, Tuscany, Italy

America's love affair with Italian cuisine continues unabated, having cycled past the cheese-laden, red-sauce-driven, meatball-centric dishes of yore, on to regional specialties (from the Barolo braises of Piedmont to the tangy seafoods of Sardinia), and even back again (meatballs are hotter than ever!). So in this issue's salute to the Boot, we take the long view, from Roman times to today.

We begin with an interview with Italian-American actor/director and recent cookbook author Stanley Tucci. Unforgettable in the food-lovers' films Big Night and Julie & Julia, here Tucci revisits his earliest childhood food memory: the aroma of a rich ragù cooking on the stove on Sunday afternoons. The food-obsessed Tucci also shares vivid memories of the fabulous garden his grandmother tended and plucked from for big family meals, and offers his own surprising thoughts on what makes Italian food so loved around the world (it's one of the most popular cuisines Americans cook at home, according to "What America Eats," a survey conducted by our sibling site Epicurious).

And since we all aspire to cook like our real and imagined Italian grandmothers, this issue is rich in authentic recipes, including three menus devoted to Italian regional cuisine: A Taste of Umbria, a trio of dishes far more elevated than their fond, familiar American incarnations (panini, lasagna, cheesecake); From Rome with Love, complete with tiramisu; and A Tuscan Family Feast, inspired by Lucca and perfect for a fall night.

History, of course, has an important place at the table where la cucina italiana is concerned. In an excerpt from the forthcoming Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds: Recipes and Lore From Rome and Lazio, distinguished Italian food historian Oretta Zanini De Vita immerses us in the age-old traditions of olive farming and oil production in the Roman region. Two recipes—Pasta e Ceci and Black Olives with Citrus Rind—complete this journey through Lazio's groves.

While you're cooking up a storm, it's not too soon to start thinking about the upcoming holidays. Our brand-new Gourmet Holiday Special Edition makes a great kitchen companion from Thanksgiving straight through to New Year's. Packed with 132 editor-endorsed recipes, it's on sale nationwide at Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Hudson News, and other retailers.

What Italian dish do you like most? Let us know via Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, drop us a line, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors' favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Mangia bene!

The editors of Gourmet Live

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