ANGELO PELLEGRINI could have easily been my grandfather. Or anyone of my many Washington-based uncles or cousins or, for that matter, any family member I met at countless weddings, first communions, confirmations, or Fourth of July parties we attended in famiglia throughout my childhood. . . . Like Pellegrini, I spent many of my formative years laboring and playing outdoors on my grandfather’s hop farm in the Yakima Valley. I enjoyed many an hour gardening at my family’s behest, trying to make sense of the massive zucchini harvest each September, or of my parents’ fascination with the excellence of a Romano bean on our August-evening table in the backyard of our suburban Seattle abode. . . .
Pellegrini’s appreciation of the basic pantry ingredients is nearly the same as mine. He understands the value of the undisputed king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano, and considers the more piquant southern cousin, Romano, on equal footing. He equates the use of garlic with Greek metaphysics, expounds on the value of salted versus pickled capers, and places black and cayenne pepper, allspice and nutmeg, in the pantheon of the most important spices, belying his Roman-empire roots. He is suspicious of the alchemy of exotic herbs, dismissing many as mere fashion. His dream team in the pantry is rounded out with extra-virgin olive oil, butter (whoops!), canned tomatoes, salami, salt pork, ham, and, surprisingly, Tabasco sauce. We are clearly brethren! . . .
If it is possible to absorb a lifetime of wisdom from a few hundred pages, Angelo Pellegrini has provided the source with his timeless classic. Ultimately, The Unprejudiced Palate is not only about planting, cooking, and eating, it’s about nourishing the soul with the food we eat, finding happiness in the earth’s annual revolution, and finding harmony in the endless refrain of the ballad.
–from the introduction to the 2005 reprint of The Unprejudiced Palate (Random House Modern Library)