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The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life (Modern Library Food) Paperback – August 9, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although he wrote it nearly 60 years ago, Pellegrini's treatise on food and life reads like a contemporary paean to the Italian culinary ideal. It is no surprise that the editor of this series of classic food writings chose Mario Batali to write a new introduction to Pellegrini, for the two share a nearly identical philosophy. Pellegrini immigrated to the U.S. from Italy and became a professor of English. At his Seattle home, he cultivated a garden and spread a gospel of simple, fresh cooking that wowed his academic colleagues. Disdaining the pretensions of the midcentury movement for processed, flavorless foods, Pellegrini was a lonely voice for using game, fresh herbs, home-canned tomatoes, and garden vegetables to create simple sauces for pasta. He relished the organ meats that repelled so many others, but he could not cook without his beloved imported Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In his writings, he recorded recipes, but these are more general techniques than rosters of precisely measured ingredients. Those unfamiliar with Pellegrini will be astounded at his prescience. Mark Knoblauch
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Review

“I have always thought that Angelo Peligrini misnamed his charming but opinionated book.  It should have been called the Prejudiced Palate, because he is so absolutely sure and unwavering in his vision of how to live a beautiful and delicious life. And I think he’s right.”
 –Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse

"Like great dishes, great writing remains in our memory forever. Angelo
Pellegrini's THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a lesson in how to enjoy life
in an elegant and highly civilized way."
 – Jacques Pépin

"Angelo Pellegrini remains undoubtedly one of America's greatest food writers. But THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is not just about cooking; it's about taking the time to slow down and savor life. This delightful classic is a must read for those who live in our fast-food nation."
 –David Rosengarten, author of  It’s All American Food, The Dean and DeLuca Cookbook and Taste


"THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a forgotten gem from what might be remembered as the Golden Age of American food writing. This Italian born, beloved Seattle professor, friend and colleague of MFK Fisher, wrote with charm, wit, and a rare intelligence about food."
Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt, Cod, 1968

“Angelo Pellegrini’s very personal view of cookery in America in the late forties is erudite, fascinating and at times screamingly funny.  His descriptions of his Italian family’s favorite dishes are so complete that they might as well be recipes, each more delicious sounding than the next”
Daniel Bouloud


“THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a savory treat that, like a fine wine or good stinky cheese, has improved with age”
Jessica Harris, author of The Africa Cookbook and Beyond Gumbo

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Food
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (August 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971552
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
I first read this book 40 years ago in college, happily soaking up its gentle and appreciative attitude toward life, as well as an early dose of cultural relativism. I learned soup-making from Professor Pellegrini, and gratitude, and something about what's important in life. I've often repeated his stories--the one about how to serve polenta to the family when you only have one sardine to go with it, the one about the crowd of boys on market days choosing which horse to follow, the one about how as a young man he horrified a girlfriend and her parents by following his own ideas about food. The professor's recipes--e.g., for soup--are more than a list of steps; they show the reader how to _approach_ soup. Once you know how to approach it, you can invent freely within the framework provided. Although it's the soup I remember the most, he talks about preparing many kinds of food, growing fruits and vegetables, and living life in a life-preserving and life-affirming manner. In many ways, the Professor was way ahead of his time, and as I grow older and relearn from experience some of the things about life that I first learned from him, I enjoy yet again the daring of the 12-year-old who came to this country alone from Italy, ate ham and eggs across the country, became an English professor, and put so much wisdom into this small book. It's a joy to see the book being reprinted and made available to a whole new generation of readers and cooks.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Brooklyn reader on November 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
It's hard to believe this book was written and published in the '50s, when watery pot roast and martinis were America's idea of fodder for dinner parties. I loved Pellegrini's story about searching for olive oil in a friend's medicine cabinet, so he could dress a chicken--no one used olive oil for cooking then! You can skip every fancy book out now on Tuscan cuisine, trattoria cooking, etc. once you have this book, because it has the best recipes for risotto, rabbit, chicken, polenta, greens, cardoons, and more importantly, it makes an argument for eating well but in moderation -- a more sensible way to keep weight down without spoiling one's enjoyment of food. GARDENERS should also read this book, or his book, THE FOOD LOVER'S GARDEN. He writes just as lovingly about working in his garden as he does about cooking the foods he grows in it. Forget expensive organic produce at your local grocery and follow his instructions for a home garden to eat from, especially if you live in a mild climate like Prof. Pellegrini did (Seattle, WA).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Glentyre on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
I knew Angelo Pellegrini when i was a kid, and was frequently at the house for dinner, wandering in the garden, hanging out on the grape arbor covered patio, and helping to make wine...Even as a young girl, I found him fascinating, and to reconnect with him by reading The Unprejudiced Palate has been a great joy...Sure he advocates wine and rum for children, but Angelo's spirit lives on this in this wonderful book. Read it for the stories and the spirit...Read it for a unique perspective on American culture, read it because it will bring you joy and make you laugh...It made me remember how gregarious he was, how he and his family could sit in a restaurant, laughing and having the best time ever, not worried that they were too loud or boisterous...Can't we all just live like that?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TO on May 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books of its kind ever written.

Originally composed nearly 60 years ago, it reads as if it'd been submitted to the publisher only recently. His culinary opinions are spot on, and his writing style is wonderful. One of my all time favorites.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ThirdShift on December 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
It's intimidating to weigh in here with a less than stellar review (if three stars qualify as less-than-stellar) when the likes of Jacques Pépin, Daniel Bouloud, and Mark Kurlansky have heaped unreserved praise upon the book. I've searched, and there doesn't exist anywhere on the web a review that could be interpreted as slightly critical. Everybody loves Pellegrini, and everybody loves this book.

Pellegrini has a great voice. He is at his best when he writes about his experience as a poor immigrant coming to America and running smack into the Horn of Plenty. He was not impressed by the skyscrapers, the cars and the trains, the magnificent metropolis, but by "the food stalls; the huge displays of pastries and confections, the mountains of fish, flesh, and fowl; the crowded cafes, where the aristocrats sat beside the drayman in overalls, gulping coffee drawn from huge urns and soberly eating ham and eggs." This voice finds resonance in most people, after all, what is an American if not an immigrant? He recounts snippets of his childhood in Italy, his hatred of pilchard (a kind of sardine), and a hillarious story told in one-up-manship about a childhood where one gets to bat at a pilchard hung on a string with his polenta. One infers that the hated fish is such a costly thing you couldn't eat it outright but only dab at it for flavor over several days.

In other essays Pellegrini gives his opinion on what should be grown in the home veggie patch, what should be kept in the pantry, how to dress up a salad, how to keep meats simple. 60 years ago when America was hip-deep in the great Casserole Bake-Off, such advice would have been refreshing and vanguard.
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