Many cookbooks tempt, inform, and inspire. A few capture the essence of a place, but rarely does a cookbook communicate the very soul of a place. Anna Tasca Lanza's telling of life at Regaleali, the vast estate that has belonged to her family since 1830, is so vivid that you feel her sitting next to you, talking and turning the pages of The Heart of Sicily as if it were a photo album.
Tasca Lanza provides enough information about Sicily's complex history and rich culture to help you understand the special nature of Regaleali and what her noble family--rich with barones, principessas, and contessas--has created. Under their stewardship, this working estate has become an international cooking school. It is also the place where Tasca Lanza pursues her passion for preserving the abundant culinary and cultural traditions of Sicily.
You will appreciate the years Tasca Lanza took to make the intense flavors of Sicilian food come through using ingredients readily available in the United States. Many recipes are short and simple, relying on seasonal ingredients, as in Pasta con le Zucchine Fritte (Pasta with Fried Zucchini) and Melanzane a Cotoletta (Breaded Eggplant Cutlets). There are recipes for all of the major traditional Sicilian dishes, from Caponata, Involtini di Pesce Spada (Swordfish Rolls) and Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Fresh Sardines) to Sfincione (Sicilian Pizza) and Cassata, marzipan-coated cheesecake decorated with candied fruit.