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Rosemary and Bitter Oranges
By Patrizia Chen
Published by Virago
Distributed by Penguin Books RRP $26.95
An unchallenging read about the author's life spent growing up in Tuscany and Sicily, interspersed with 24 recipes. The value of the book lies in the recorded memories rich with tradition which highlight the difference between life in Livorno and Messina during the fifties and sixties. Paperback.

Monsoon Diary
By Shoba Narayan
Published by Random House RRP $26.95
Delightful read about a young spirited girl growing up in a close middle class Madrasi family, who cajoles her family to let her study in America, her adaptation to life there and her eventual arranged marriage. Along the way she cooks many an Indian feast (with delicious recipes), and experiments with dishes from many cuisines - not always warmly received by her new friends. Written with passion and humour, and full of lovely stories which give a great insight into this fascinating culture. Paperback.

It Must've Been Something I Ate
By Jeffrey Steingarten
Published by Review
Distributed by Penguin Books RRP $39.99
As they tell you on the inside cover, Jeffrey Steingarten is a man obsessed. This book will unlock many foodie mysteries, create new ones, shock you, leave you stultified, inspire you, and have you guffawing raucously on your tod. In many cases you'll wonder why, why he sought out weird ingredients, why he carried on his strange experiments, why the hell he cooked for his dog or drove around Paris In taxis looking for the best French bread &but by the end of the book the message will come through - it's all been done in the pursuit of excellence. Yes indeed, a man obsessed with good food. Superb writing. A must-read book. Hard cover.

Tuscan Cookbook
By Stephanie Alexander & Maggie Beer
Published by Penguin Books $34.95
Five years old, but just as good as when first released. Delicious food by two food aficionadas. Over 100 recipes with plenty of scenic and produce shots as well as finished dishes. Great value.

Al Dente - The Adventures of a Gastronome in Italy
By William Black
Published by Bantam Press
Distributed by Random House RRP $45.00
Black believes he has Italian heritage and heads off to Italy to find it. After numerous trips spent gorging himself on local delicacies, he does find a family connection but it takes backstage to everything else in the book. His take on historical events will have you seeing them in a new, not always favourable, light, and coupled with in-depth, well-researched accounts of every edible morsel he comes across, the reader is in for an entertaining time. And he's a cheeky fella, out to poke fun. I giggled my way through the first few chapters, and once I had the measure of his writing, giggling gave way to belly laughs. His quick wit and way with words is irresistible. About octopus, "In an age when many like their food to be as bland and soft as possible to avoid any use of teeth, you could say that octopus isn't quite of the moment. You really do need teeth." And referring to his encounter with the famed and defamed worm-wriggling Sardinian cheese casu marzu, Black says that he wasn't going to be defeated and once he started eating it, he only stopped when he realized he better not eat his hosts out of 'house and worm'. Full of irony, comments like, "Turin doesn't grab you by the coglioni in that most physical way that some of the more exquisite Italian towns and cities do," a grasp of colloquial Italian helps. Most definitely the best book I've read in a long time.

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