The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

MAS­SIMO Capra, au­thor of OnePotI­tal­ianCook­ing (Allen & Un­win, $35), learned about food while cook­ing with his par­ents on the fam­ily farm in Cre­mona, Italy, the source of his deep at­tach­ment to nat­u­ral foods.

He later trained in Parma, the home of Italy’s much-cel­e­brated ham, and cooked pro­fes­sion­ally in Italy be­fore mi­grat­ing to Canada, where he co-owns two Toronto restau­rants, Mis­tura and So­pra.

Capra’s book is or­gan­ised un­der chap­ters de­voted to soups, sal­ads and eggs, risotto and po­lenta, pasta, fish, poul­try, meat, veg­eta­bles and sweets, with about 10 recipes in each.

But who would have thought dishes cooked in a sin­gle pot could be so var­ied and look so dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent? (The dolci are a bit of a cheat, in­clud­ing car­ni­val dough­nuts and roasted pears be­side the sin­gle-pot par­faits and pud­dings.)

What is never far from th­ese pages is the com­mit­ment to the ro­bust and rus­tic food Capra learned to cook from his ear­li­est days. Full-page colour pho­to­graphs show feasts in a pot such as fer­retti al ragu di carne, hand­made noo­dles with ragu, which has veal and pork ribs and chunks of Ital­ian sausage peep­ing through an unc­tu­ous-look­ing tomato sauce.

Meats and seafood are ex­pected one-pot dishes, and what can beat a fish stew? (There are shrimp with can­nellini beans, roasted scal­lops with ba­con, squid stew in its own sauce, mus­sels with peas and white wine.) But risot­tos in­clude sur­prises such as wild straw­ber­ries with white as­para­gus and parme­san, and a fava bean po­lenta with chicory.

There are old favourites, too: risi e bisi (rice and pea soup) from the Veneto, and the Tus­can bread salad pan­zanella toscana. Poul­try cov­ers pheas­ant and turkey as well as chicken and duck.

But with all this earth­i­ness, the veg­eta­bles are among the most al­lur­ing dishes. Mi­lanese fen­nel cut­lets, baked car­doons (ar­ti­choke stalks) with pecorino and caramelised lemon carrots will be high on my agenda. Ju­dith Elen

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