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Welcome to News From Italy, my blog about our Italian Adventure. Although this blog has now ceased publication I will be continuing to blog and I am sincerely hoping that my many followers here will move with me to Travel Tales blog to follow my next adventures wherever they may take me. The links to my other blogs are:-

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Italy in Books Reading Challenge July 2011


Beyond The Pasta by Mark Leslie            Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011



The July post with a list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. July Reviews

Beyond The Pasta is so much more than just another Italian cookery book as besides providing great recipes Mark writes a diary about his trip to Italy to learn authentic Italian cooking. The added wow factor for me was not just that it is set in Italy but in our region of Viterbo. I loved all the local recipes, some of which I had heard of but others were new ones. I shall definitely be getting my husband to try these out for us, as he is the chef in our household. Mark’s diary of his time here in Viterbo was absolutely fascinating, particularly as we know and love the places he visited. It was  interesting to read his take on places that we are very familiar with. As for instance his impression of Marta, as a place with a long line of hotels lining the lakefront. Sorry Mark, but first impressions were deceptive, there is only one hotel along the stretch he wrote about. In fact at the time of writing there was only one hotel in the whole of  Marta and that was ‘Otello’s’, attached to the restaurant he visited, one of our favourites. He was right about the restaurants though as there are three in a row just in that stretch of lake frontage. I guess it must have just looked impressive.

Besides being an account of the everyday experiences of his month in Viterbo immersed in Italian culture,both language and cuisine, it is also as I already mentioned a cookery book, a record of Nonna’s amazing sounding recipes. I have no intention of sharing any of them here with you as I have yet to discover my favourites. You can discover some of them by visiting the links below.

It is with thanks to Michelle at Bleeding Espresso and her review that I learnt of the existence of this book.  It was her review that convinced me I had to have a copy of my own. Maybe my review will tempt some of you to also buy a copy! Having said that it will be no surprise that I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Italy and all things Italian.

I hope one day that Mark will be back in Marta so that he can autograph his book for me!

Mark Leslie

Do spare a few minutes to watch this video.

Uploaded by 334mdl on Jul 23, 2010

Here is Nonna~ the grandmother of the family Mark Leslie lived with in Viterbo, Italy. She is the central character in his book "Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family" which was released on September 1, 2010, by Gemelli Press. Please visit http://mark-leslie.net for more details. In this clip, Nonna is telling a story about her mother--you can truly see her sense of humour as she tells the story. She made him laugh every day while he was there...and she will make you laugh in the book, too!

Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.

YouTube - Mark Leslie – Where you will find a selection of great videos from Mark publicising his book.

Beyond The Pasta - Mark Leslie's Official Website

Beyond The Pasta - Facebook Page


I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog

LindyLouMac's Book Reviews


  1. Thanks for introducing me to this book Linda - sounds fantastic!

  2. excellent books,, I will check these out for sure.Have a wonderful day,,

  3. Now who do I know who loves Italy and all things Italian??? Just let me think for a moment.... oh yes, IT'S ME!!! Gosh, I guess this book will have to go on my list as well then. It must have been lovely for you reading the book when it was about the places around you that you know so well.

  4. Linda,
    The very first thing I plan to do on my next visit with Nonna and her family is drive to Marta to meet you, sign your book and then go EAT together!!
    Thank you for your enthusiastic review. The area of Viterbo is a fascinating place in northern Lazio and I hope more people travel there to discover its hidden treasures! Grazie tanto, Buona Giornata e Buon Appetito!

  5. I loved Nona's laugh and waving finger in the video. She must be quite the character! :))

  6. I'm listening to Mark make sauce right now. Thanks for the information. It's great fun!

  7. Thanks for sharing these books! I'm going to have to check them out...I love learning about new Italian reads :)

  8. Mark, couldnt someone have checked the Italian before publication... the mistakes made us laugh...

  9. I love cookery books that tell a story of travels and tell about people. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. brilliant! what more can I say, oh, and I really do get a sense of Nonna's sense of humour - she reminds me of my bis-nonna ;o) take care Yollie

  11. Learning about, eating and preparing regional dishes is one of our loves. The fact that the book focuses on Viterbo is fantastic. It looks like Mark has done a great job of documenting his experiences in the region and providing fascinating anecdotes and scrumptious recipes. I agree with his comments about bringing your loved ones to the table--eating great food with people you love is one of the most wonderful things to do in life.

    One comment about pasta. In the city in which I live in the USA, I have yet to find a restaurant that serves pasta al dente. Unfortunately, many of the restaurants here are corporate franchises--not the delightful "mom and pop" restaurants you see in Italy.

    My wife and I recently dined at a mom and pop restaurant in my city. The owner is from Italy, and we talked about cooking pasta. He told me that he has to overcook the pasta because his American customers want it and expect it that way! I told him that when he makes my pasta to please make sure it is cooked al dente. When I received the pasta, it was firmer than the pasta I had in other restaurants in my city, but not quite al dente. It appears that many Italian chefs and restaurant owners are extremely hesitant to cook the pasta as it should be cooked, even if you ask for it to be cooked that way. That is unfortunate, but I suppose if these places want to stay in business and compete with the corporate chains, they probably have no choice. As a lover of food, I doubt I could purposely serve overcooked pasta to people. It just is not right. :)

  12. Thanks for this Lindy. I think my winter reading list will be to read many of the books you've suggested. i hope my local library is able to order these books in. The food in Italy is so amazing...I want to become a better cook! Thanks for visiting my blog again. it's good to be home but every day I think of our time in Italy.

  13. I like that he combines his experience with his recipes. You have me very interested in the book now! I wouldn't have known about it if you didn't share it on your blog :) Nice to know it's about a place where you live and therefore, you'd be the best critic on the book :) Funny about the correction of hotels along the lakefront.

  14. Makes me furious..I start listening and the computer goes nuts..it hasn't been right for a long time..but at least I can read things.
    Sounds great and nothing we enjoy more, than good food..Will check this out.


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