Yakima native Teresa Lust’s “A Blissful Feast” is both travelogue and cookbook. The book recalls Lust’s extensive travels through the Piedmont, Maremma and Le Marche regions of Italy in the early 2000s. Brimming with interesting stories of the natural and cultural history of Italy, the book also details the story of Lust’s journey to reconnect with her Italian heritage and transition from chef to cook, rather than the usual cook to chef.
At the end of each chapter Lust includes a recipe so that readers can re-create the blissful feasts described within for themselves. The book’s 27 chapters means there are plenty of recipes to choose from. Personally, I’m excited to try making Lust’s recipes for authentic Italian gnocchi, breadsticks and Piedmontese hot spiced wine. But I’ll probably skip the braised rabbit and stewed turnips, though I’m sure they are delicious.
As a historian, the historical tidbits and anecdotes that Lust intersperses though her narrative are as satisfying to me as any meal. I really enjoyed learning about Italian history, such as Napoleon’s campaigns and the reign of King Victor Emmanuel II, and its geography, like the Selva del Lemone, the forbidding woods where Dante walked and where Lust herself had to be rescued by the Italian carabinieri after a hike gone astray.
The hardcover of “A Blissful Feast” released in March 2020. Needless to say, world events overshadowed the book’s launch, but hopefully the June 2021 release of the paperback will allow the book to get the appreciation it deserves. Fans of Italian cooking will find much to love in this delightful read.
• “A Blissful Feast: Culinary Adventures in Italy’s Piedmont, Maremma, and Le Marche” by Teresa Lust was published by Pegasus in June. The paperback retails for $17.95.
• J.T. Menard is a history instructor at Yakima Valley College and a former employee of Inklings Bookshop. Inklings staffers review books each week in SCENE.