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Lucio Galletto grew up on the Italian Riviera. He now runs the acclaimed Sydney restaurant Lucio's. David Dale is the author of The 100 Things Everyone Needs to Know about Italy, and Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish cooking.


"Chef Galletto and journalist Dale, co-authors previously of Soffritto: A Return to Italy (2011) and other books, make definitive choices in this seafood-glorifying cuisine collection, selecting more than 100 favorite recipes from coastal cities in France, Italy, and Spain. In essence, it's a pilgrimage from Galletto's Ligurian home town to the Spanish port city of Tarragona, proving Waverly Root's point in The Food of France (1958) that separating European nations by preferred cooking fat (butter, lard, olive oil) makes more sense than by national boundaries. In what is ostensibly an introduction to the coastal Mediterranean region's cuisine, both authors assume at least a nodding acquaintance with ingredients and foundations such as basil and aioli, bouillabaisse and salade nicoise, and give much explanation about country variations and alternatives. Dishes tend towards the familiar for most foodies: tapenade and potato tortilla, seafood paella and focaccia. Sidebars often highlight travel must-sees, such as the Med's mightiest mercat (in Barcelona), Les Templiers Hotel (in Collioure), and basil madness on the Mediterranean. This is both a photo book to drool over and a collection to cook from, full of travel stories to amuse- and dream about."

The latest collaboration from Ligurian chef Galletto and food journalist Dale (Soffritto: A Delicious Ligurian Memoir) serves up a sumptuous culinary tour through three Mediterranean cooking cultures in what the authors call the Domain of Oil: Liguria, Provence, and Catalunya (also known as Catalonia). Northwest Italy, southern France, and northeast Spain, connected by a contiguous coastline, share foodstuffs and foodways brought by Greeks, Romans, and Arabs, such as olives, saffron, figs, chickpeas, and anchovies as well as eggplant, rice, and pasta. The authors skillfully present the culinary links, observing that Liguria's pesto alla genovese is Catalunya's salsa verde and Provencal's pistou. Fish-based fare abounds with stews such as Marseille-style bouillabaisse and baccala (dried salt cod) recipes across the cuisines. Quail and figs with farro is a mash-up of Provencal and Ligurian classics. Regional salads, soups, breads, rice and pasta, and dessert recipes are plentiful, using ingredients accessible to American home cooks. Photographs showcase kindred plates and sun-drenched Mediterranean landscapes. This cookbook-cum-travelogue also highlights favorite taverns and restaurants along the culinary corridor and the spectacular markets of Barcelona and Nice. Galletto and Dale's culinary tour and definitive recipe collection is at once personal, enlightening, and mouthwatering.

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