Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie

Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie on Amazon

Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie on Amazon

Our most recent guest on the Eye on Italy podcast was Mark Leslie,* author of Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family, published by Gemelli Press.

I received a copy of Mark’s book last Thursday afternoon, just in time to do a little interview prep for Monday evening’s taping. I was hoping to get at least most of it read by the time we’d be speaking with Mark — and that turned out to be no problem at all. I flew threw this book in just a couple days. To be honest, I wish I could have savored it a bit more but the approaching interview gave me an excuse to keep picking it up. And believe me, no one had to twist my arm to do so.

Beyond the Pasta is about Mark’s month with an Italian family in Viterbo, learning both the Italian language and Italian cuisine. The book is Mark’s journal of experiences during that time, each curiosity and peculiarity noted and explored, with mysteries often left to be answered in subsequent chapters. I particularly enjoyed how we live through Mark’s time in Viterbo without misunderstandings corrected until they were done so in real time, even something so basic as the nickname of one of his hosts — I think many of us can identify with mishearing/mispronouncing/misunderstanding Italian names you’ve never heard before!

Mark Leslie, Author of Beyond the Pasta

Mark Leslie, Author of Beyond the Pasta

Oh, and as an added bonus, you get nearly 30 of Nonna’s authentic Italian recipes, including a previously secret ricetta for what looks to be a delicious yogurt cake Mark calls “Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa” because the ingredients are measured out using the empty yogurt cup.

Mark’s love for both Italian culture and his adopted family shines through his writing; his enthusiasm is contagious and kept me turning pages. I was truly sad when Mark’s time with his adopted family was over and even shed a tear or two. I remember very clearly what it was like to leave Italy reluctantly, and all that came flooding back to me with Mark’s words.

Even as someone who has lived in Italy for seven-plus years, I found Mark’s story lively and engaging — and believe me, that doesn’t always happen for me with books in this genre. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Italy and all things Italian; of course it would make a perfect holiday gift for the Italophile on your list.

You can keep up with Mark at his website, follow him on Twitter @beyondthepasta, and like his book on Facebook at Beyond the Pasta.


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12 Beans of Wisdom to “Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie”
  1. Since I too have read the book, and did my own review, I can honestly agree with all of your assessments of the book and Mark. I was so sad when he left. That last chapter got to me.
    I can’t wait to try some of the recipes, I think I’ll be adding something to my family Christmas dinner. I’m really happy to see others reading Mark’s book and enjoying it as much as I did.

    Thanks for chiming in, Michelle! I was sad for probably the last 50 pages of the book, actually, knowing Mark’s time with the family would end!

  2. I too read the book and reviewed it and cried a couple of times! The yogurt cake was a huge hit at my house and I have had to make it several times since! What I liked best was the way he was able to laugh at himself (I am a meat), which made it so much easier to laugh along with him.

    Definitely, Joanne! Mark has an outstanding sense of humor — something that comes in quite handy in Italy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. 12.15.2010

    I’ve got to read this. Thanks for telling us about it.

    I know you’ll love it FH!

  4. anne

    sounds like a fantastic book , I am a little ๐Ÿ™ only for US readers or with a US address ๐Ÿ™ ..

    I know Ann; shipping costs are getting nastier and nastier unfortunately ๐Ÿ™

  5. 12.15.2010

    Ciao Michelle! This book looks really interesting.

    Thanks for coming by, Alessandra!

  6. Gil

    Sounds good. I think I’ll have to tell my wife about this book! Maybe, it will be cookbook number 1001 or something like that!

    This is much more book than cookbook, I’d say, but lots of great recipes regardless…would be a great Christmas gift!

  7. 12.21.2010

    Sounds fascinating. I learned about that “yogurt cup” cake a few years ago and have been making it ever since. I will look out for the book at Feltrinelli here in Rome.

    I definitely must try it…and hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

  8. Pat Griffin

    @Anne – you posted that the shipping costs are too much for the US, so I went to Amazon and shipping is free – the cost of the book is 29.00 (am I missing something?) Right now though it is temp. out of stock. Could it be because of Michelle!? ๐Ÿ™‚ I plan on ordering it…sounds great.

    The reviews sound as though it makes you yearn for Italy. Not good for me, since I yearn w/o reading this book!

    Pat, Anne was referring to the fact that the giveaway is only for US readers, and then I responded about shipping costs, meaning that shipping outside of the country is just too expensive for many publishers, which is why they tend to limit giveaways to their home countries. Anyway, I have it on good information that Beyond the Pasta is currently being reprinted, so it should be available soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake