Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice, Small Bites from the Lagoon City

This cookbook and history (240 pages) was published in June of 2022 by Hardie Grant. The book takes you to Venice. Melissa read Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice

Small Bites from the Lagoon City

Emiko Davies

Author Emiko Davies is a food writer and photographer who could teach us all a thing or two about how to enjoy life. She’s lived in her adopted home of Italy for almost two decades, has written four other lovely cookbooks about Italian cuisine, and there’s this: ‘She and Marco live in a Tuscan village with their two daughters, where they dream about opening their own wine bar one day.’

This book features recipes and stories of cicchetti, the irresistible two-bite appetizers found in Venice and only at neighborhood bars called bácari. Cicchetti is a food and an embrace of la dolce vita: The idea is that after work or when your errands are complete, you meet up with friends, sip a spritz, and eat a little something salty and flavorful along with your neighborhood gossip.

In some ways, this book is just what you might expect from a coffee table cookbook. There are gorgeous photos that will transport you to Venice. Dreamy shots down cobbled alleys, pigeons bobbing in a hidden square, locals reading the newspaper with a cup of espresso, a lonely gondolier on a canal. And there are carefully researched, well-written recipes for cicchetti that range from simple (hard-cooked egg topped with an anchovy) to more elaborate (Venetian-style fried mozzarella sandwiches).

But that’s just a sneaky way to lure you into Venetian history. The heart of the book is a romp through the Renaissance via its food and art.

The author’s voice is just right. She’s a knowledgeable and opinionated expert with a fan’s enthusiasm; her deep affection for Venice and its cuisine radiates off the page. It’s infectious. You, too, will long for an ombra of wine and a cicchetto at canal-edge.

Davies used historical cookbooks, food memories, and Renaissance art to inform her recipes, so fascinating tidbits from her research season the text just right. Between recipes, we learn the thrilling story of a shipwreck in Norway that led to one of the most popular dishes in Venice and explore the historical value (and romance) of spices. Davies writes so precisely and lovingly about radicchio that it may become your favorite vegetable.

The detailed recipe headnotes deftly weave together stories and how-to tips so cicchetti like polenta, fried meatballs, tuna tartare, and fried zucchini flowers feel possible in a home kitchen far from the canals of Venice.

Pro tip: The most Venetian recipe is not really a recipe at all. In Venice, seafood and vegetables are often simply steamed and then dressed with olive oil, garlic, and minced parsley. As the author says, all you need is these three key ingredients to cook like a Venetian.

It doesn’t take long for this city to work its magic on me. Just one look at that long, low horizon shaped by the grey-green Venetian waters as the train pulls into the island station, Venezia Santa Lucia, and I find myself breathing a sigh. It never gets old: the lagoon, the water- lapped maze of streets and canals, the salt-worn, crumbling buildings and campi (squares) hidden away like secret pockets. Whether enshrouded in winter fog with impending high waters or under the warm, beating sun, Venice is truly unforgettable. — Emiko Daviesë

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