Lord knows the food world is filled with a plethora of pasta cookbooks.
So when the folks sent me a copy of “The Geometry of Pasta” by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy I was reluctant to even open it. But the cover was intriguing, beautiful black and white drawings of all sorts of pastas. This book was the inspiration of cookbook designer, Hildebrand rather than chef Kenedy, which is unique enough – most cookbooks are created by chefs or at least cooks of some kind.
But as I scanned the pages I was awed by the simple beauty of the artwork and eventually by the text. Kenedy is Britain’s top Italian chef; he owns Bocca di Lupo, England’s top Italian restaurant. And his knowledge of all things pasta is amazing. The book has a decidedly English ‘voice’ (whilst sautéing”, “cook in an abundance of boiling water,”) yet it is anything but dry. Indeed it is pretty witty.
Every pasta shape imaginable is discussed (they’re arranged alphabetically) and he gives recipes for numerous types of pasta (semolina pasta, several egg pastas) as well as the proper sauces for each type of pasta. He discusses the history and origins of both pastas and sauces. I haven’t had the chance to try any recipes yet, though reading the book gets the juices rolling.
But it is the artwork that really makes the book unique. Stark with an old-time woodcut look, each piece takes on a three dimensional feel. The shapes flow. Orzo is arranged in alternating vertical and horizontal rows. Farfalle floats on the page, looking like the butterflies they’re named for. Pici resembles a game of pick-up-sticks. I would love to have them hanging on my kitchen or office walls. I usually give promotion books away, but this one is too pretty (and readable) to give away.
It’s also almost too artistic to risk getting messed up while I cook a recipe, but somehow I think I’ll find a way.