What inspired you to write your book?
I had been traveling to Italy for over a decade, and as I was also passionate about cooking, I became particularly interested in regional cuisine. While on a business trip to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, I fell in love with two of the local specialties—frico and cjalsons. From there, the idea just grew as I discovered the uniqueness of Friulian food. Since there were no books on Friuli or Friulian cuisine at the time (at least none that were still in print), I felt that there was a niche to be filled.
About your Book:
Plump gnocchi stuffed with juicy plums and then tossed in browned butter, sugar, and cinnamon? How about pasta filled with dried figs and ricotta, or even chocolate and walnuts? Yes, Italian food is more than just spaghetti, and tiny Friuli–Venezia Giulia—hidden from tourist mobs in Italy’s northeast corner—boasts one of the country’s most distinctive regional cuisines. With influences from Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia, the Friulian people cleverly merge humble, local ingredients with exotic spices from foreign lands, resulting in a cuisine that, while often surprising in its blend of sweet and savory flavors, never ceases to delight the palate. In Flavors of Friuli, Elisabeth Antoine Crawford has compiled eighty of Friuli’s traditional recipes—including frico (Montasio cheese crisps) and gubana (dried fruit and nut spiral cake)—and presents them with clear instructions that any home cook can easily follow.
Cuisine Style or Food Genre
Sample Recipe or Food Advice
Gnocchi di Zucca (Butternut Squash Gnocchi)
1 large butternut squash (about 2 to 3 pounds), halved lengthwise
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup grated ricotta affumicata
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45–50 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the seeds and membrane. Scoop out enough flesh to measure 2 cups. (Reserve any extra for another use.) Place in a medium bowl; mash well. Cool to room temperature.
2. Stir the flour, salt, and egg into the mashed squash.
3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into the water, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Cook until the gnocchi rise to the surface; remove them promptly with a slotted spoon.
4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook and stir until the butter has browned, about 8–10 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in the sliced sage leaves; add the gnocchi and toss to coat with butter. Serve topped with grated ricotta affumicata.
What formats are your books in
How do you see writing a food/cookbook as different from writing other genres of books?
Obviously, recipes are the focal point of most cookbooks, and by nature, the structure of a recipe is different from writing in other genres. Within the framework of recipe-writing, however, you will find a range of styles, from flowery and descriptive to short and concise. The style you choose will help determine the overall style of your book.
Advice to someone that is thinking about or currently working on a food book or cookbook
Unless you are extremely detail-oriented yourself, hire someone to edit your recipes. Measurements need to be consistently written, and instructions need to be perfectly clear and unambiguous. I strongly recommend reading The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
When I was ready to publish my first book, Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates, very few people had heard of Pilates. I became impatient with the process of finding a publisher, and so I decided to self-publish. When it was time to publish Flavors of Friuli a decade later, the pieces were already in place to self-publish again. Plus, I wanted to maintain full control over the book’s design, and most importantly—being a new mom at the time—I needed to be able to set my own deadlines.
Instilled with a lifelong passion for Italy, Elisabeth Antoine Crawford chose to explore the cuisine of Friuli–Venezia Giulia after being seduced by her first Friulian dinner of frico and cjalsons. She subsequently spent the next five years traveling, researching, writing, recipe-testing, and finally, shooting the food photographs for Flavors of Friuli. The book has thus evolved as a synthesis of her greatest passions—cooking, writing, photography, and most of all, Italy. A former modern dancer and Pilates instructor, Crawford is also the author of Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates.