Pasta Pane Vino

Pasta Pane Vino is the name of a recently published book by Matt Goulding. I bought it immediately after hearing the author interviewed by Christopher Kimball on Milk Street Radio.

The book is subtitled – “deep travels through Italy’s food culture,” and he has written similar books on Spain and Japan. Matt Goulding is a James Beard award-winning author, and published this book with Anthony Bourdain. It came out a matter of days after the death of Anthony Bourdain, in fact.

The best part of the book to me was the correspondence Matt Goulding had with Anthony Bourdain – actual letters between the two discussing the prospect of yet another book on Italian food.

The book is more of a travelogue; it’s not a cookbook. In it you discover three brothers who became the burrata kings of Puglia. You discover the Barolo Boys who turned the hilly Piedmont into one of the world’s great wine regions. You meet some Italian nonne, some of whom are arguing about how to make ragu.

During the interview the author gave up some of his favorite, “secret” places to dine in Italy, so hopefully not everyone who buys this book turns these local spots into tourist stops!

Anyone planning a trip to Italy could certainly use this book for inspiration. It’s also good to know the “rules” of the culture, and this book contains some helpful information in the chapter “Drink Like an Italian.”

I’ve interspersed photos of my own from various regions of Italy. If you haven’t been, I strongly urge you to go.

Italians are famously fastidious about when they drink what. Sunrise to 11 AM is cappuccino time, the early afternoon for espresso. Early evenings are for aperitifs – wine or beer, with snacks – and after dinner is time for the stronger stuff: grappa, a cocktail, or a digestivo.

Order a “grande latte” and you’ll get a giant glass of milk and the skiing eye. Everything starts with espresso, more commonly called cafe. Order a roster to for a shorter, concentrated shot; a lunge for a longer, gentler one. A macchiato gets you a little steamed milk, and a cappuccino gets you a lot more.

Coffee culture here isn’t one of slow sipping and lingering. Italians don’t drink venti mochas in to-go cups; they drink four to five caffes spaced throughout the day, like cigarettes, to scratch and itch and break up the demands of the day. Find a bar you love and keep going back to the counter.

Italians rarely drink on an empty stomach and a glass of wine or a spritz is usually a bridge to a free bite. In Venice, feast on small snacks called cicchetti; in Milan and Bologna lavish spreads put out for aperitivo can easily double as dinner. If you’re not getting something to eat with your glass, you should find a new place to drink.

Just as you don’t eat pesto in Palermo or carbonara in Campania, you shouldn’t drink Barolo in Bari or Chianti in Cagliari. Stick to the local grapes and you’ll find better deals and more interesting wines. Zibibbo (Sicily), Soave (Veneto), pignoletto (Emilia-Romagna): all rank as some of Italy’s most underrated.

Even if you’ve already visited Italy, this book is truly inspiring, entertaining, and educational. It will cause you to begin planning your next trip!

42 thoughts on “Pasta Pane Vino

  • Interesting – I have a beautifully illustrated cookbook, published Oct. 2018 (100 recipes) from America’s Test Kitchen and National Geographic – Tasting Italy A Culinary Journey. Of course this was after Christopher left ATK. The cuisine, culture, landscapes, maps, etc. – really nice book! Yes, I too highly recommend a trip to Italy – the one country I have visited from Venice to the Almalfi coast.

    • I’ve only been int the Northern parts, north of Roma and north of Umbria. So there’s mush more I need to explore! The cookbook sounds wonderful.

  • This sounds terrific! I love Milk Street and Bourdain, so this is right up my alley. And the photos are amazing. We’ve never been to Italy. I’ll certainly pick up this book before booking.

    • I definitely would suggest it. And I definitely suggest Italy, although we have been only Rome and north, not south. So I can’t speak for all of Italy! The northern part in the Dolomites was just unreal.

  • Mimi, thanks so much for the review of Pasta Pane Vino. I wasn’t aware it was around and it’s definitively my kind of read. I really enjoy your images from Italy as well. Great post.

  • Mimi, thanks for your first-hand travel and eating guides, Much appreciated! I doubt I’ll get to enjoy them anytime soon, but I DO subscribe to Milk Street magazine (Cooks Illustrated, too!) and Christopher Kimballs “Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook” is one that I miss greatly after our house fire (a gift from my Sis… such good writing and great recipes!) a few years back. LOL about the Leaning Tower of Pisa pic… just sold a “replica” of it at the church thrift store this week (ya a never know WHAT incoming donations may yield!) and was thinking I should have purchased it myself. :) But, in the meantime, I truly love your regional recipe reminiscing. xo. Thank you!

    • AWWW, thanks so much Kim. Oh how i used to love cooks illustrated, so i understand. I had fun at the leaning tower – it was so touristy i snapped a few and got out of there!

  • I need to get back to Italy. I pack-packed around there when I was a student nearly 30 years ago. We lived off simple pasta meals we cooked on my single gas stove and one pot we had with us and fresh bread. Oh and wine. Cheap and highly alcoholic peasant wine. Great days! Lynne has never been and now having slightly more money we would be able to dine out. An inspiring post and great read invoking some great memories for me Mimi. Thanks! :-)

    • Oh that must have been fun. Those were the days. I wouldn’t want to back pack now! Hope you get back soon.

  • This sounds exactly like the way we like to experience Italy! Thanks for the recommendation… I get the magazine, but have never heard the radio broadcasts.

  • Oh how I want to be traveling and eating in Italy! What a lovely book. Thank you for the introduction.

  • I haven’t been to Italy yet, but am now inspired to go after reading your post. All of these ‘rules’ makes it sound a little complicated, but maybe a little easier for me since I don’t drink any kind of ‘cafe’!

  • Hi Mimi! I absolutely have to buy this book now! The pictures you posted made me homesick and I have to precise that we call “caffè lungo” an espresso diluted in more water than a regular one. I’ve never heard the expression “grande latte”, but between “macchiato” and “cappuccino” there is an halfway called “macchiatone”. Yum. I miss my Italy so much, for the its beauty, its historical places, its inimitable food and wine. Too bad government and politics cannot make such a marvelous country also enjoyable to live in.

    • It’s so complicated! And so much probably changes between regions. Government and politics. UGH.

  • Oh this looks like a very interesting book and I love the pictures! It’s interesting what you said about the nonne arguing about the best way to make ragu’. Italians always talk about food and I thought that was normal because coming to live in the UK. Thank you for your review!

  • I enjoyed reading the coffee “rules” of the day, Mimi. From the standpoint of fully utilizing the caffeine benefit, I think the bursts throughout the day make a lot of sense. :-) What a lovely book. You’ve given me a great gift idea for someone in my life who regularly visits Italy and I know would find this book fabulous.

  • I will have to look out for that book as I love Italy…almost as I love France, but not quite 😊. Some of your lovely photos remind me of my own trip a few years back… loved that one of the seafood which appears to have been cooked in a clay pot… where was that Mimi, I’m intrigued!

  • What a great review on the Pasta Pane Vino book. I’d be interested to read the exchanges, especially from Bourdain. I’ll have to agree, what a beautiful country. Our best visit was to Cinque Terre, the seaside fishing villages on the rugged coastline of the Italian Riveria.

    • That is such a beautiful area. We also loved the northern area in the Dolomites. But I love mountains!

  • Sounds like a terrific book. LOVE Italy, but haven’t visited for years. One of those countries where I could live — love their food philosophy. Wonderful post — thanks.

    • I completely understand. For me, it’s France, but they’re very familiar, even though they wouldn’t admit it!

  • Mimi – Italy is my all-time favorite place to just be. I love everything about it – the food, the people, the sightseeing, just living that life. This is a book I really want to read, if I could ever get through the stack that is always waiting for me. Ha! But I love Anthony Bourdain, too. So it’s on my list!

    • Hahahahaha! No, I’m sure it hasn’t changed. Fortunately! Hope you get back soon. I need to as well.

Leave a Reply. I love 'em!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.