Monday, December 20, 2010

Had I seen a copy of The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy (Quirk Books, 2010; originally published in London by Boxtree, an imprint of Pan Macmillan) I would have included it in my previous post on great books to give and keep. The Geometry of Pasta is not like any other book you've seen. Yes, there are recipes -- over 100 of them -- and you will want to make most if not all of them; but there are also really cool black and white drawings of the pasta shapes that are more like works of art. And, most importantly, there are terrific introductions for each pasta shape that is informative and interesting, such as this one for corzetti, large coins of pasta from Liguria: "their name derives from an old Genovese money-piece via crosets - a pasta dating from the fourteenth century and as long as your thumb." As the authors note, "pasta is different across Italy...this diversity is true at every level. From region to region, the same pasta is cooked with a different sauce." If you think all the pastas of Italy are found in North American grocery stores, this book -- and another one published last year that I love, Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita, translated by Maureen B. Fant and with a foreword by Carol Field (University of California Press) -- will be eye openers. Each pasta entry in The Geometry of Pasta includes a list of synonyms, a recipe for making the pasta, other sauces that are good matches, and at least one recipe using the particular shape. Hildebrand is a designer who has worked on a number of cookbooks, including some by Nigella Lawson, as well as projects for clients such as The Balvenie single malt scotch, Fortnum & Mason, and Hendrick's Gin, and Kenedy is co-owner of Bocca di Lupo (, recently voted London's best restaurant by Time Out and the Evening Standard, so this team is truly qualified to recommend the perfect shape and the perfect sauce.

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