Beyond the Pasta; Recipes, Language and Life with an Italian Family

Beyond the Pasta; Recipes, Language and Life with an Italian Family

by Mark Donovan Leslie


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Several years ago, on a break between theatrical gigs in Alabama, Mark traveled to Italy and fell in love with the people, food, and culture. Armed with just enough courage, minimal Italian language skills, and a certain proficiency in the kitchen, he enrolled in a full-immersion cooking and language program. He would travel to Viterbo, Italy and live with an Italian family.

His teachers were beyond his wildest dreams—he learned to cook from the grandmother, or Nonna, of the family, who prepared every meal in a bustling, busy household, as women in her family have done for generations. Her daughter, Alessandra, taught him the language with patience and precision. Besides culinary secrets and prepositions, they opened their lives to him, and made him a real part of their extensive family.

Though the book contains authentic, delicious family recipes Nonna shared with Mark, Beyond the Pasta delves into food memoir subject matter not found in a typical cookbook. It was the day-to-day living, befuddled social interactions, laughing and shopping with Nonna, exploring the countryside and le gelaterie, where he truly developed his language skills, and a new, more joyful and uniquely Italian way of looking at the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780982102367
Publisher: Gemelli Press
Publication date: 08/20/2010
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Mark Leslie, a self-proclaimed “foodie” who loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, works across the country in professional theatre as a stage manager. Every year he vacations in Italy and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. He shares those Italian experiences on his popular blog at A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 23 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissima!

What People are Saying About This

Fannie Flagg

“Alabama and Italy—what a delightful and delicious combination.” --(Fannie Flagg, Best-selling author and actress.)

Biba Caggiano

“Mark has captured the essence of the Italian people!” --(Biba Caggiano, TV chef, cookbook author, and Sacramento restaurateur.)

Scott Peacock

“Mark understands and so beautifully conveys the transcendent nature of true cooking, cooking that comes from the heart and feeds not just the body but the soul. There is something universal about this that goes beyond culture, age, race, and gender—real food, real cooking, real sharing is something sacred and often under appreciated. His writing is smart, sensitive and wittily observed. Beyond the Pasta exemplifies how the act of cooking is intrinsically an act of sharing and affirmation, and has the potential to be an open expression of the heart.” --(Scott Peacock, chef and co-author with Edna Lewis of “The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks.”)

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