Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure (2018), Andrew Cotto
Themes: Travel, Food, Romance
Reading Format: Paperback
I’d like to start this review by thanking Andrew for sending me a copy of this book to review. My review is entirely honest and all opinions are my own. I would also like to mention that this book does contain swearing and sexual content if that is anything that bothers you.
I was excited to review this book as it is set in Italy, I visited Rome on holiday last year so I was looking forward to visiting this beautiful country again on the page. Cotto’s description of the villages in this book make it clear that he has a love for Italy and a keen eye for the details in his travels. We are first introduced to two characters, Jacoby and Claire, engaged to be married and planning to live in Italy for a year whilst Claire works on a travel writing piece.
Immediately we can see there is some tension between this couple, Jacoby, who is our main character has been through a rough time of it and is quite reliant on his fiancée. I don’t know how this makes me feel about Jacoby, I have sympathy for him, but I also think he needs to be a self-made man a little more. But he is clearly a passionate, as is apparent in his love of music and his adoration of Italy.
As a character, Jacoby is a lost man, he doesn’t know what or who he wants. He is a character that readers can relate to. He’s trying to go about his day to day and become a better person, but he’s learning every step of the way, like we all are. I still haven’t decide if I like Jacoby or not, he does some very questionable things in this book that make me think I don’t, but then he is just human and he is the perfect reflection of real, human mistakes.
If you are a fan of food, then this book is definitely for you. Cotto’s evident knowledge of a rich pallet shines through in the descriptions of meals and wines in Cucina Tipicia. A lot of these pages are taken up with descriptions of taste and experiences with food. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with this type of focus, but it certainly made my stomach growl. I also appreciate reading about characters eating, usually this is glazed over, especially in fantasy, fictional characters still need food too!
The plot is based around a secret Jacoby has, a photo he wants to know more about, one that could possibly link him to family he never thought he’d have. Along his journey he meets various new friends and becomes more integrated into Italian life. I liked the investigative undertone of this plot, the characters make references to being like the Da Vinci Code, and I liked that playful, but explorative nature they have. At times it seems the answers fall into their laps quite easily, but this this is a short book so I appreciate the story needed to be moved along.
My only criticism to this writing style was the breaking off into Italian in the speech. I am not an Italian speaker and at times the characters would talk for a few lines and I wouldn’t know what they were saying. I would get a vague description in English afterwards, but for me this broke up my reading experience and was unneeded for English readers.
Overall though, this story was refreshing and calm. A perfect summer read to be sat by the beach with, or one to enjoy whilst tucked inside with a glass of wine and some Italian food. The ending was very well put together and gave me a good sense of fulfilment. Cotto is a travel author to watch out for, his writing takes you straight to the setting and is a pleasure to read.