A little square of ravioli is like a secret. You look at the outside and see the neatly crimped dough, puffed up in the center with a lovely pillow of something mysterious inside…Before you bite into it, all is unknown and much is still possible.
Schenone’s previous title (A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove) no doubt had something to do with her quest for her own family’s history through an iconic food. What elevates this memoir is the lyrical writing and honest accounts of family estrangements. Without blaming anyone, Schenone describes the various schisms that have occurred in her extended family, and seeks to bridge them through immersion in the fine art of ravioli making. It’s fascinating to see how her great-grandmother coped with the lack of indigenous Genovese foods in Hoboken, New Jersey, using Philadelphia brand cream cheese in the silver foil package instead of the fresh tangy prescinseua of her Italian village, and Gold Medal flour instead the more finely ground Italian pasta flour (or chestnut flour). As Schenone tries again and again to discover and replicate her family’s ravioli recipes, she travels to Italy for research, eventually bringing her husband and two young sons to experience the very different pace of life, vales and mores of Liguria. Schenone realizes early on that it’s not just ravioli she’s making (or trying to make), and an especially interesting discussion with a pair of evolutionary biologists looks into the idea that perhaps certain foods are genetically tied to us because of our ancestry. There are recipes in the back, though after reading about what hard work it is to make these delicious filled pasta squares, I doubt many readers are going to try them! Not just for foodies, this thoughtful and well-researched title will also appeal to those interested in genealogy and American history.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken