Bianco: Pizza, Pasta and Other Food I Like
Chef Bianco’s long-awaited BIANCO: Pizza, Pasta and Other Food I Like (Harper- Collins, 2017) comes out on July 25. Surprisingly, one of the reasons it took so long to produce the book is that Chef Bianco wasn’t sure he believed in cookbooks, even though he enjoyed reading them. He was worried that the book might be perceived as THE way to make pizza (and the other foods), rather than as an expression of his way of making the dish. And that readers might use the cookbook as a shortcut to how the recipes were supposed to taste rather than relying on their own preferences. He fervently believes that “before you can learn to cook, you need to learn to eat.”
Luckily for us, his publisher convinced him otherwise and BIANCO teaches us just as much about learning to eat as it does about learning to cook.
Take for example, the classic Mozzarella and Tomato sandwich from Pane Bianco. With only six ingredients (bread, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt), you’d think the recipe instructions wouldn’t be that complicated.
But Bianco says, “Precisely because they are humble and unassuming, sandwiches have a lot to teach us about what it takes to make good food. Most people are rarely prepared to answer the question of why they think a certain food is good (or why not), and just taking the time to ask that question is the beginning of a great sandwich, or of any good cooking experience.”
In the case of this “Caprese salad between slices of bread,” it’s the sturdiness of the bread, the juiciness of the tomatoes, the freshness of the herbs. Then it’s making a little cradle by hollowing out the bottom part of the bread, gently laying the medium-thick slices of tomato on top of the bread so that it can absorb some of the juices, layering on the milky mozzarella to cover the whole sandwich and tearing up the basil so you don’t just pull out one big leaf with your teeth. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt complete the sandwich before it’s topped with the other half of the bread. Bianco even suggests cutting the sandwich on the diagonal (looks better and is easier to eat.) A simple sandwich indeed!
If you’re a local fan of the Bianco empire, you already know the basic history behind the restaurants, but the book offers new tidbits along the way, many from Bianco’s New York childhood and his visits to Italy. You also find out which pizza he’s most likely to make and the pizza he finds most challenging.
For more information on book signings and other related events this summer, see our event calendar at ediblephoenix.com/events.