Pasta Pane Vino

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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.

GET WITH THE SCHEDULE
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.

LEARN THE LINGO
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.

KEEP IT QUICK
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.

MAKE A MEAL OUT OF IT
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.

DRINK LOCAL
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!