In my exploration of all things food, cookbooks come at me in all directions. Professional cooks, food personalities, and the occasional “accidental” foodie—some of my favorites— land on my doorstep daily. I try my best to read through as many as I can.

Here’s a story that really caught my eye: Italy through the eyes of an Alabamian.  This book let’s you live vicariously with an Alabamian exploring all things Italian. The intoduction told me all I needed to know.
After a trip to Italy in 2001, author Mark Leslie returned to his home in Alabama, but he couldn’t get the splendor of the country out of his head.
In 2005 he returned to Viterbo, Italy, immersing himself in a cooking and intensive language course where he lived with his teachers.
Each day, “Nonna,” a charming Italian grandmother, taught him to cook authentic Italian recipes while her daughter, Alessandra, taught Mark colloquial Italian.
In Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family, Mark shares his journal entries and charming stories  with a little Italian woven throughout. By the end, even non-Italian speakers will feel as if they have learned the language. (It is also perfect for those looking to refresh their Italian.)
Readers get to know and love this kind-hearted, generous, and often dramatic Italian family. With Mark’s artful description of every meal, conversation and experience, yo
u feel as though you are actually there, eating and laughing along with Nonna and the entire family.
In the tradition of other great explorations of Italy such as Under the Tuscan Sun, Pig in Provence or Eat Pray Love, Mark’s book takes the you through his journeys, uniquely sharing the Italian point of view through Southern eyes.