As many of you who stop by here regularly know, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of telling you about Faith Heller Willinger‘s newest book, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part travelogue, the book is an homage to all of the friends that Faith has made throughout her years living in Italy. (Note: She’s made a lot of friends!) The recipes are contributions from these friends. They are unique in the way that a special recipe from a special friend is unique.

I was able to take a sneak peek at Faith’s book thanks to Cath of A Blithe Palate who invited me to co-host an event with her based on Faith’s new book.

Rather than a typical book review, Cath and I decided to try something different with this book. We each chose a set of participants and asked them to read the book and choose a recipe they’d like to prepare. After having made the recipe, we asked them to write about it and in particular, to write about who they would share their dish with and why.

The response has been tremendous! While there are still a few more people who have yet to post their adventure with this book, I’d like to present to you a round up of (most of) the participants that I asked to take part.

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I will start with the first person that I asked to take part, that being Lis of La Mia Cucina. Lis is a soul sister so it only makes sense that I would ask her first since we are practically related! Lis wrote a very humourous and touching post that explains how her family has a very special meatball recipe that has been passed down for several generations (I think all Italian families have a special meatball recipe … ). Understandably, she would have shared her dish with her beloved dad. Mille grazie, Lis!

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As I thought about who else I wanted to invite to take part in this event, I immediately thought of my friends Rob and Rachel of Hungry in Hogtown. Not only are they fellow Torontonians, but they’re avid travellers who have fallen in love with Italy. (I understand Rob speaks some mean Italian …). Their post is about the beauty of real balsamic vinegar and how it transforms what it touches. They went all out by preparing stewed peppers with balsamic vinegar (pictured here), spaghetti with olive oil and parmesan and homemade ricotta with a variety of toppings. They chose to share their dish with a close friend. Mille grazie, Rob and Rachel!

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I have often said that I try to visit Ilva’s blog, Lucullian Delights, as often as possible because her enlightening photography is a reminder that beauty is everywhere. I knew that she would bring a very special perspective to this event as Italy is her adopted home, having married and settled there. I thought that we would be able to see Faith’s book from the unique point of view of someone who moved to Italy from somewhere else. I was right! Ilva wrote a beautiful post about preparing gnocco fritto and how she would have loved to share it with her cousin Ulrik, who unfortunately passed away at a very young age. It’s a touching post about how a dish can invoke so many beautiful memories. Mille grazie, Ilva!

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From my friend Ilva in Tuscany I moved to my friend Angelika in Austria. Has it already been six months since I spent a wonderful evening in her company? Time flies! Although Austrian through-and-through, Angelika has an Italian heart. I just knew I had to include her in this event. Even though she’s supremely busy with her restaurant endeavour, she took the time to read the book and write about it. On her blog The Flying Apple, Angelika wrote about a very unique spaghetti tart from Willinger’s book. Angelika chose to share her dish with a very special person to her whom she met via her blog – more proof that blogging can often lead to the most special of bonds. Grazie mille, Angelika!

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I am constantly amazed by Lydia of The Perfect Pantry. She is so knowledgeable and does such a wonderful job of sharing her food knowledge! We’re lucky to have her in blog world. Happily, she agreed to take part in this event and she choose to prepare a variety of dishes from the book. Lydia, and her dear friend Cindy with whom she shared the dishes, were busy bees as they prepared Brick-Grilled Chicken Breasts, Ricotta-stuffed Zucchin Flowers and Ginger Apricot Biscotti. Lydia’s post exemplifies perfectly the spirit of sharing that is so clearly outlined in Faith’s book. Mille grazie, Lydia!

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I have not known Mia of the blog Nosh for very long, but the moment I first set eyes on her blog, I knew a kindred spirit! Mia’s Italian heritage shines through and I just knew I had to ask her to be part of this event. Mia’s post was so touching as she wrote about her sister’s visit and how she decided to share her dish with her sister. After spending time together in Verona, Italy, they returned to Mia’s home where together they prepared the stewed peppers with balsamic vinegar. Mille grazie, Mia!

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And now to my sweet Tartelette! That’s right, my dearest Helene was also part of this event and I am so thrilled. It’s funny because I was thinking about asking Helene, and finally did, only to find out that she had already asked Cath to take part. Clearly it was meant to be! Helene chose to prepare a cookie that is very near and dear to my heart: amaretti. Helene has some very interesting thoughts about how Faith’s book represents the sort of emotional bonds people have to dishes. Helene chose to make amaretti after recalling the first time she tried them on a trip to Italy with her family. Mille grazie, Helene!

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To put it very simply, I adore Rowena of Rubber Slippers in Italy. She is so funny and sweet, and her blog is one of the very first that I fell in love with. You can always trust Rowena to come up with something very unique. An American married to an Italian, I knew that Rowena would approach Faith’s book from an interesting point of view. Rowena shared her dish with her husband and let him choose it. He chose Risotto with Almonds and Broccoli. My mouth is watering. Mille grazie, Rowena!

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Do you love The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz? I certainly do! And I especially love Chef Paz and her spirit for cooking (also really love her New York Mondays). I wrote to Paz asking if she’d like a chance to take part in this event and she readily agreed. After receiving her copy of the book, Paz decided to try penne with fish sauce. She explained that she would share it with her friend Francine who has been an inspirational force for Paz in the area of cooking. Mille grazie, Paz!

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I have been blessed with many wonderful aunts, on both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family. But after reading Tea’s post on her blog Tea and Cookies, I also want an Aunt Angela. Or as we would say in Italian, Zia Angela! While Tea often thrills her readers with her story of how she discovered blogging, the truth is that we discovered her just the same. I have always felt so drawn to the elegance of her writing. I sometimes feel that reading her posts is like reading honey … so smooth and clear. Tea wrote a lovely post about the effect of meeting and spending time with an Italian woman known as Aunt Angela. To honour her, Tea chose to make the walnut cake from Faith’s book. (Don’t miss reading about her beloved lasagna as well!) Mille grazie, Tea!

Thank you to everyone who took part in this incredible event!

Ciao!

Note: I will add a link to Cath’s round up once she has hers up!

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