Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tutti a Tavola with Lidia Bastianich

I have a confession: I love Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

She is a great restauranteur, cookbook author and television cooking teacher. She has a charming, welcoming manner without a trace of arrogance.

In 1998, PBS offered Lidia her own cooking show, which became Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. She has been a fixture in the PBS cooking show lineups ever since, hosting two additional television series, Lidia's Family Table (still in reruns around the U.S.) and Lidia's Italy, launched in April 2007. Lidia closes out every episode with a heartfelt invitation to join her and her family for a meal, "Tutti a tavola a mangiare" (Italian for "Everyone to the table to eat").

To accompany her various television series, Lidia has authored several cookbooks:

La Cucina di Lidia
Lidia's Family Table
Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
Lidia's Italian Table
Lidia's Italy
They are very good and inspiring. The one I know best is Lidia's Italy, which is organized by geographic region and contains interesting recipes that you won't easily find elsewhere. I would also recommend this as a travel book to people about to go to Italy; advance knowledge of a region's cuisine will make for a more rewarding culinary experience.

Lidia's restaurants are among New York's best. Felidia is consistently excellent, featuring the best food of her native Istria (now part of Croatia), as well as other regions. Del Posto, which she founded with Mario Batali, is one of the best restaurants in New York. I haven't been to Becco, which she owns with her son Joseph, in years, so I can't comment on it.

Bobby Jay

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