Plotkin, Fred 1956(?)–
PLOTKIN, Fred 1956(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1956; son of Edward (a trombonist) and Bernice (a public information office worker) Plotkin. Education: University of Wisconsin, B.A. (Italian Renaissance history); graduated from University of Bologna (opera production); Columbia University M.A. (journalism).
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Little Brown and Co., 148 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5R 1C2, Canada.
CAREER: Author, lecturer, and food critic. New York Metropolitan Opera, New York, NY, performance manager and program guide editor. Has worked at La Scala (opera house), Milan, Italy, and as a tour guide at Lincoln Center, New York, NY.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright scholar.
The Authentic Pasta Book, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.
(With Dana Cernea) Eating Healthy for a Healthy Baby: A Month-by-Month Guide to Nutrition during Pregnancy, Crown Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1994.
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.
Italy Today the Beautiful Cookbook: Contemporary Recipes Reflecting Simple, Fresh Italian Cooking, food photography by Peter Johnson, Collins Publishers (New York, NY), 1997.
Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.
La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to publications, including Opera News, New York Times, Gourmet, and Los Angeles Times.
SIDELIGHTS: A connoisseur of fine food and Italian cooking, Fred Plotkin began his writing career with The Authentic Pasta Book. Although some of the recipes in this book are easy for beginners, most of them are for intermediate to experienced cooks. Along with general information on sauces and pastas, Plotkin provides detailed directions for making, cooking, serving, and eating pasta. Plotkin describes recipes and cooking styles specific to each region of Italy. Booklist reviewer John Brosnahan described the book as a "wonderful collection," and a Library Journal reviewer praised the recipes as "quick … [yet] unusual and delicious."
Plotkin has written and coauthored a number of other books on Italian gourmet cooking. Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera includes a generous selection of recipes from the Italian Riviera, a region also known as Liguria. Plotkin "does an admirable … job of collecting authentic versions" of these recipes, noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Included in the book are recipes for pesto, focaccia, and a variety of fish. "Serious research makes this book a fascinating read" both for the recipes and for the information on Liguria itself, the Publishers Weekly reviewer commented.
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler offers in-depth information on the best places to dine in some 300 cities and villages throughout Italy. "Practical advice, such as making reservations, goes hand-in-hand with colorful descriptions" of Italian restaurants and eateries, remarked Booklist reviewer Alice Joyce. Plotkin includes cultural details of the areas in which the restaurants can be found. The book also contains a glossary of Italian food terms, city profiles, restaurant reviews, indexed recipes, and local anecdotes. David Naudo, writing in Library Journal, called the book "an entertaining, comprehensive guide."
In La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia Plotkin "does what he does best—focuses on a lesser-known part of Italy and brings it to life," observed a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. A multicultural region bordering on Austria and the former Yugoslavia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia has multiple ethnic influences infusing its foods. Plotkin discusses these influences in the course of presenting 150 recipes and also includes a detailed history of the region, plus information about local vineyards. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "an outstanding volume."
In Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera Plotkin, who is a former performance manager for the New York Metropolitan Opera, provides a helpful guide readers new to the topic. The book "provides an excellent 400-year history [of opera] that could have been published as a booklet on its own," commented Brad Hooper in Booklist. Plotkin explains the basic parts of an opera performance, including how to understand the plots and staging, how to learn the story that is being sung, and how to appreciate each singer's voice and technique. He also discusses opera etiquette, with detailed advice on how tickets are purchased and when to applaud. Ken Ringle of the Washington Post Book World, while applauding Plotkin's knowledge about and love of opera, remarked that the book is not as accessible to beginners as it should be, but agreed that Plotkin's analyses of operas "are valuable for their scholarship and insight." He also noted that Plotkin's lists of outstanding recordings of operas are "valuable guides through the bewildering forest of artists and conductors past and present."
Plotkin turns his attention to another source of cultured music in Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music. The book "is an amazingly complete volume, considering the scope of its content," remarked Strings reviewer Meg Eldridge. Coverage includes topics such as the type and history of musical instruments found in a symphony orchestra; tone quality, or timbre; and the "voices" of the orchestra. Plotkin explains topics such as the process of musical composition, the ins and outs of conducting and orchestra, the role of singers in classical music, and how to appreciate a live performance. A discography and resource guide rounds out the book's contents. Eldridge concluded that Plotkin "addresses what it means to really listen to and appreciate music."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Record Guide, September-October, 2002, Donald R. Vroon, review of Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music, p. 252.
Booklist, August, 1985, John Brosnahan, review of The Authentic Pasta Book, pp. 1614-1615; November 15, 1994, Brad Hooper, review of Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, p. 569; November 15, 1994, p. 595; July, 1996, Alice Joyce, review of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, p. 1792.
Library Journal, August, 1985, review of The Authentic Pasta Book, p. 95; May 15, 1996, David Nudo, review of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, p. 77; May 15, 1997, Judith C. Sutton, review of Italy Today the Beautiful Cookbook: Contemporary Recipes Reflecting Simple, Fresh Italian Cooking, p. 96; April 15, 2001, Judith Sutton, review of La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, p. 126.
Music Educators Journal, May, 2003, review of Classical Music 101, p. 51.
New York Times, August 30, 2002, Glen Collins, "Off with the Cellphone (Even If It Plays Beethoven)," biography of Fred Plotkin, p. B2.
Opera News, April, 2003, Alan Wagner, review of Classical Music 101, p. 79.
Publishers Weekly, June 21, 1985, review of The Authentic Pasta Book, p. 94; November 7, 1994, review of Opera 101, p. 71; August 4, 1997, review of Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera, pp. 70-71; March 19, 2001, review of La Terra Fortunata, p. 95.
Strings, October, 2002, Meg Eldridge, review of Classical Music 101, p. 90.
Washington Post Book World, January 22, 1995, Ken Ringle, review of Opera 101, p. 2.
Smithsonian Study Tours Web site, http://www.smithsonianstudytours.org (July 27, 2004), "Fred Plotkin."