Mamma Agata “Simple and Genuine” – a cookbook review

Flashback. Ravello, October 2001. From the cool alpine north to the sun-drenched south, the MotH and I were on a 3-week tour of the italian peninsula and the Amalfi Coast was a stop on the itinerary. What I remember most from that visit were the colors: the deep undulating blue of the sea, the brilliant yellow of lemons, the burnished reds of bundled chile peppers drying in the sun. Everything was picture-postcard perfect in this paradisiac spot on earth, but what I especially remember is being swept away by the amazing beauty of Ravello, perched high above the coast with a knock-out view to cry for. Who would’ve known back then that nearly 11 years later, Ravello would come knocking on my door?

Which is exactly what happened when the postwoman left a package at the gate. I had been contacted by Chiara Lima, daughter of Mamma Agata, with a request to review the Mamma Agata “Simple and Genuine” cookbook. How could I say no to someone with ties to such a beautiful place? Along with the cookbook she had also tucked in a bottle of their extra-virgin olive oil (drizzled some on a hunk of bread – it was delicious!) and a package each of their spaghetti and pappardelle bronze-cut pasta – what a generous surprise!

Taking a quick look through the pages it soon became clear that that this was not your ordinary cookbook. From her days as a young girl embarking on a career (that saw her preparing dishes for many famous people), and eventually running her own cooking school in Ravello, “Simple and Genuine” comes across as family history and recipes all rolled into one. Packed with vibrant images of her tempting dishes and interspersed with cooking tips and secrets, each of Mamma Agata’s recipes has step-by-step photos to help novice cooks along the way. The bold-colored food photography immediately drew me in and surprisingly also my husband – MotH aka Man of the House – who took a keen interest in the lemon risotto (he made it TWICE – it was that good).

Coccoli Lemon risotto Stuffed squid
Chow down at the Castelli’s… Simple and genuine cooking from Mamma Agata’s cookbook. Click on images to view descriptions.

Needless to say, I became a fan of this cookbook on first taste. Coccoli, lemon risotto, and stuffed squid – the proof is in the recipes tried thus far and I recommend it to anyone who takes pleasure in the mediterranean flavors of italian cuisine. With any luck, I’ll be trying more recipes when my garden’s harvest of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes is in its summer peak. Further info on Mamma Agata’s cookbook, cooking school and food products can be found in the link below.

This is a non-paid, voluntarily written review and Rubber Slippers In Italy is not in any way affiliated with


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