A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
NATALIA Ravida’s SeasonsofSicily (New Holland, $39.95) fulfils the first requirement of the best cookbooks. It’s a 200-page hardback yet not heavy and, crucially, it opens and lies flat at every page.
As for the food, the recipes cover the unexpected as well as pastas and seafood. Zucchini flowers are cooked in broth until ‘‘ soft and mushy’’ rather than fried or baked, and seasoned with oil and saffron and served with pasta.
A ricotta and salami pie in a sweet crust reflects the sugar-loving tastes of Sicily.
Among the seafood dishes, there is a recipe for rolled sardines with pine nuts and raisins and, another autumn dish, ‘‘ baked dentex’’ (dentice al forno), which sounds like a tooth condition but refers to what we in Australia call silver trevally.
Desserts include a moulded quince paste and white grape pudding with toasted almonds. And beside the unexpected dishes are the timeless favourites such as cannoli, almond and chocolate cake and iced Christmas biscuits.
Produce pictures are of lemons, artichokes, olives and broad beans. Most important, the book is divided into seasonal food, ripe apricots heralding summer, turning leaves and persimmons the autumn. The book is a hymn to Sicily and the foods of the south, written by an author with solid southern credentials. Pictures in deep rich colours show someone’s grandmother making almond-paste Easter sheep, atmospheric scenery, peeling walls and an olive tree in the heat of a Sicilian afternoon. Judith Elen