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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Jacoby Pines loses his job as a result of a text message finding its way unintentionally to his boss. He is fortunate to have a well-heeled fiancée who has a commission to spend a year in Italy researching off-the-beaten-track eateries for an English travel journal. But the best part is that the now unemployed Jacoby is invited to accompany her. She is unaware that Jacoby is in possession of an old photo of a woman seated outside a Tuscan villa which he found in his mother’s effects, and has wondered ever since if there could be any family connection. So commences Cucina Tipica (a typical dish or recipe), subtitled An Italian Adventure, by Andrew Cotto. Jacoby and his fiancée Claire take up residence in an old converted barn located in the hills above Florence, and very quickly start to explore the rustic cantinas and sample the delectable food and wines of the area. All does not go well, however, and Claire decides to continue her exploration without Jacoby. Although disappointing, the unfortunate circumstance enables him to concentrate on exploring the possibility that he may have family connections in Italy – a land in which he immediately felt at home.
Through a number of culinary adventures and helped by local people who become friends, the narrative, drenched in the Tuscan sunshine and steeped in the local wine, slowly delivers an enticing story along with a satisfactory ending to the puzzle. The book really got going once Jacoby was left to his own devices and began to interact with the local people. Tuscany and the surrounding area are beautifully described, as is the ‘cucina tipica’ of the area. The wines also play a large part in the storyline and the characters are solid and well-drawn. The narrative necessarily contains a lot of Italian and I was impressed with Cotto’s command of the local language and idioms. An impressive piece of work which I am sure will find a ready audience with those dreaming of lazy days in the Tuscan sunshine and heady nights in the Florentine trattorie.