Picks and Pans Review: The Renaissance of Italian Cooking

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Lorenza de' Medici

Yes, Lorenza is a descendant of the legendary Florentine Medicis. And naturally she lives in a villa; make that an 11th-century abbey surrounded by ample vineyards and olive groves. It is quite fitting, then, that de' Medici should focus on the cuisine of the Italian aristocracy—she visited her highborn friends in 12 regions stretching from the Alps to Sicily. Yet, aside from stuffing a boned pheasant or slivering black truffles for soup, most of the dishes she describes are not exotic.

Who could quarrel with potatoes roasted with bay leaves (don't forget the extra virgin olive oil) or meat loaf dressed up with sherry, eggs and Parmesan cheese and baked in puff pastry? Some combinations surprise, like spaghetti with black olives and orange peel; some are as unusual as the Todi serpent tart, a loop of baked almonds and egg whites.

Many of the more than 150 recipes are familiar but ennobled in de' Medici's hands. With dazzling photographs by John Ferro Sims, this book is almost as transporting as a jet to Milan. (Fawcett Columbine, $30)

From Our Partners