Is it still necessary to present Jamie Oliver?
The talented chef, who started his career at Neal’s
Yard and The River Café before setting up on his own,
has become a star. Restaurants, TV shows, a
foundation, campaigns to promote healthy eating,
kitchen accessories and food range, the list is
endless. Of course, there are the cookbooks. Almost
twenty of them.
One of my favourites is “Jamie’s Italy”. It starts
with the book cover. Jamie may be English, but it
looks like his heart belongs to Italy. The chef is
obviously very relaxed, sitting outside on a red stool
against a wall whose paint has seen better days, his
foot propped up against an old Fiat Cinquecento. He is
eating spaghetti coated in a tomato sauce, and the
expression on his face says it all. It gives you the
urge to open the book and start cooking straight away.
To gather the recipes, Jamie embarked on a tour of the
country in a VW bus with a kitchen built in a trailer,
allowing him to easily cook wherever he stopped.
Tuscany, the Marches, Sicily, etc, Jamie clearly had a
genuine and deep connection to the people he met
during his peregrinations, as the photos attest. A lot
of smiles and hand gestures going on, and touching
moments such as Jamie observing an old man repairing
his fishnet, pouring a glass of wine for a shepherd or
making pasta with four generations of women. When I
browse through this publication and take the time to
look at the pictures, it makes me want to visit the
night markets of Palermo to taste these chickpea
fritters or to enter a pasta competition in Le Marche!
The book delivers more than 120 of classic and new
recipes, classified under:
Street Food and Pizze
First Dishes (featuring soups, pasta and risotto)
Second Dishes (featuring fish and meat)
“Jamie’s Italy” focuses on authentic, mouthwatering
food, best eaten with family and friends. Italians
“Mamas” revealed their pasta making secrets to Jamie
and owners of “agroturismo” inns welcomed him into
their way of life. The warmth of the exchanges Jamie
had with locals also transpires in the writing and the
way the recipes are introduced. Yes, this love of food
and sharing makes its way into your home too. I have
yet to try all the recipes, but the ones my family and
I already prepared received high praise, from us as
well as from our guests. Needless to say, only empty
plates and dishes were returned to the kitchen.