First things first. This book is published by Ten Speed Press, a local to the San Francisco Bay area. They’ve had a long history of top notch books ranging from this book here all the way to do-it-yourself bicycle repair. Their Anybody’s Bike book was a gift to me from my father back in about 1971. It was cause for celebration cause it was for my first 10 speed. Just so you know, that was a lot of gears back then. In fact, that was the most gears you could get.
So why am I here today with a food guide to Florence, Italy? After oh so many years, I’m on their food book review list! Why in hell is Meathenge having anything to do with traveling and food at such far away places? I’m on their food book review list.
Heh, heh. I’m totally going to open a book written by Emily Wise Miller.
I’ve been flipping through this little book for the last few days. Actually sitting down and reading a book about a place I’ll probably never have the chance to visit and enjoy doesn’t exactly thrill me. I decided to read the first few pages, starting with the front cover. Oh great, there’s a quote from someone on the cover extolling some wonderful warmies. Here’s what it says:
“The nice thing about this guide is that I will no longer have to write out a list of my fave spots in Florence for my friends who visit. This book says it all and makes me happy.”
– Mario Batali
HAHHAHH, no kidding? Ol’ Mario read it? Will recommend it? If this is true, I am impressed. Know why? That boy knows how to eat, everything.
A few pages in we’re greeted with the ol’ Contents page, hmmm. Looks as though it’s broken down in to areas about town. That’s kinda nice, being able to find a place to eat where you are instead of having to jet across town just for one place. Glossary, Index and … OooOO maps !!! I love maps. I got 40 year old eyeballs, the maps are a little tough to see indoors here. When I go outside the names pop right out. Remember to read maps when you have decent light.
The first chapter goes in to detail about regional foods. Beans, vegetables, bread, salumi and more. Hey lookie here. Finocchiona salami is regional to Florence. And I thought it was a region of Fatted Calf.
Chapter 2 leads us to desiphering and learning about Tuscan wines. Chapter 1 was food and chapter 2 is about wine, that makes a lot of sense to me. Considing how much I know about Italian wines, this is a good thing to have.
The following 200 pages are loaded with places to eat all catagorized by locale, type of food and even list notable chefs to you can say, “ooo, ahhhh.” On pages 101 to 103 are some foods that are seasonal to look out for. Very thoughtful I’d say. Check this out, on page 163 there’s a section that lists and details local cooking classes. Ya know, that’d be a barrel of fun taking a cooking class in Florence. I could do that.
Now comes the puddin’. All these fine words are nice and all, but if the Index is all out of whack, the dear thing is pretty useless in the field. I ran through 7 of ‘em and they all went right to where they were supposed to. Plus it has a good glossary of terms. Bombolone is a doughnut, vino sfuso is wine from a vat and porchetta is pork stuffed with herbs and cooked slowly on a spit. And those my friend, are pretty much all the words I would need if I were going to visit Florence.
As my closing thoughts I’d like to say cheers to the team responsible for the layout design and editing. It’s clean, concise and what you need is available to the eye. No crazy little whirlies to send your eyes where they don’t need to be. My only complaint is that it just barely doesn’t fit in the hip pocket of my 501s (I wear nothing else, ever).
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramble based on a book I haven’t read and a place I’ve never been.
ps – Note to publishers. When sending out review copies, please include 3 roundtrip tickets and a credit card with the book.