Resource: Celebrating Family and Friends

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As we move into the new year, this is the perfect time to curl up on the sofa with a warm quilt and browse through this book about year-round entertaining.

Celebrating Family and Friends is a collection of recipes that embodies this spirit of sharing and knowledge exchange, and reflects a deep passion for food. This book by Valerie Zuliani Did Paolo creates bridges between cultures and culinary traditions, makes new connections, and presents unusual pairings.

Zuliani was born and spent her early childhood in the Italian region of Friuli, which neighbors Austria and modern-day Slovenia, and is situated between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. In the multi-cultural city of Montreal, which became her home at the age of 10, the author later embraced, through marriage and new family links, the flavors and ingredients of southern Italy.

These two biographical factors may have been necessary, but not sufficient, for her to become an excellent cook and entertainer. Valeria Zuliani’s cuisine complements passion and curiosity with skillful technique and elegant creativity.

It is only thanks to the author’s competence and tasteful choices that patate in tecia can perfectly share the stage in the spring brunch menu, with a quintessentially Quebec dish such as maple syrup beans; or that radicchio (from Treviso) can be combined with cranberries as an ideal complementary ingredient to counterbalance the subtle bitterness of the crunchy salad leaves with the sweet and sour accents of the fruit.

The reader will notice the unusual format of this book, in which the recipes are not listed under the usual rubrics of antipasti, primi, secondi, etc. Rather, the recipes are grouped in eight menus: Easter Gathering, Summer Barbeque, Thanksgiving Feast, Fall Get-together, Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Banquet. These menus are for meals throughout the year, and they are not all on special occasions. These menus are to be seen as templates that can be modified, possibly without altering the criteria of contrast and association between courses that has inspired them. A simple everyday meal can include one appetizer, one main course and a side dish from a more sophisticated holiday meal.

The reader can also be more adventurous and mix dishes from one menu or many other menus, while adhering to the same principles of elegance and balance with which the original meals have been conceived. The book also includes a glossary, list of substitutions you can use in your cooking and many helpful hints.

Winter is a time to study these menus and plan your own adaptations of them for you and your family and friends. You can experiments with some of the recipes and try different combinations. Then you will be ready to celebrate at the next big occasion!

This book is available online.

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