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Italian Cookbooks – The Best Of


Craig Camp
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There are a thousands of Italian cookbooks out there. Which books have you found most useful and which books are the best at dealing with ingredients that are hard to find outside of Italy?

My current favorite is Food and Memories of Abruzzo by Anna Teresa Callen.

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Bugialli's Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands is wonderful, especially the pictures.

Pellegrino Artusi's Art of Eating Well is also great -- I have the Kyle Phillips translation but apparently a new and more complete one has just been published. Ada Boni's Talismano della Felicita.

And Elizabeth David's Italian Food, of course.

Edited by Jonathan Day (log)

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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My limitation as a home cook is that I am too dependent on recipes, and am hesitant to adapt or change things too much..so Nancy Verde Barr's book, Make it Italian, is a great choice for me..she provides a recipe, then suggests variationson each dish. It has encouraged me to experiment . I also enjoy Lidia's Italian Table, for its great shellfish recipes and easy antipasti's.

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My favorite Italian book that I own is Antipasti by Julia Della Croce. I have made some wonderful things from this book. I also am currently enjoying Biba Caggiano's Biba's taste of Italy.

I also have books by Kasper and Hazan but find Hazan's stuff on the bland side and Kasper's stuff too complicated and with a lot of ingredients I can't find,

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Classical and Contemporary Italian Cooking for Professionals by Bruno Ellmer is a good resource to have at hand. A lot of the dishes are complex and outside the scope of what one might normally prepare, but there are a few simple gems as well.

hal

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Bugialli's Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands is wonderful, especially the pictures.

This is the same one I have...couldn't remember the name. Another newer book with simple recipes and wonderful stories is Anna Tosca Lanza's most recent book on Sicilian cooking.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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Craig

My favourite Italian cookbooks that I couldn’t be without are:-

The Food of Italy – Claudia Roden

Sicilian Home Cooking – Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene

Cucina Siciliana – Clarissa Hyman

And all three of Mario Batali’s books

Plus of course Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s book, which is almost a travel guide for me!

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Claudia Roden - The Food of Italy: very good on the different regions of Italy, with fascinating little essays on each area of the country, and the recipes are simple without being bland. If you only know her from her Middle Eastern books, I highly recommend it.

Oh, and there's meant to be a new book on regional Italian cooking published by the Slow Food Movement coming out later this year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't worked up to the classics yet. But a great overall review for the basic Italian cook is Regional Italian Cuisine (Barron's). Their versions of the standards, i.e. Ribollita, Melanzane parmigiana, etc., are excellent.

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  • 4 months later...

I am an avid home cook who would like to cook Italian more often. One of the reasons I haven't is that I have a lack of quality Italian cookbooks. I have looked at a lot of them in new and used bookstores but have a hard time telling a particularly good or important book from an average or poor one (without buying it and trying out recipes). With French food, I took the approach of learning the canon of important chefs (Escoffier, F. Point, Bocuse, etc.) and styles, as well as the different regional cuisines, and used this as a basis to select books. With Italian, I can certainly learn the different culinary regions, but have had a harder time understanding the canon of important chefs (i.e. who learned from whom, etc.)

I would like to ask the eGullet community for a recommendation of Italian cookbooks that are must-haves. Here are the conditions:

1. Books by Italian chefs who have influenced a number of other Italian chefs (and hopefully still influence them today).

2. Good regional cookbooks, particularly those with details on the ingredients and customs of a given area (Paula Wolfert's Cooking of South-West France is a good example of the type of regional cookbook I like.)

3. No contemporary restaurant cookbooks, particularly if they are from Italian-American restaurants (I have the Rao's cookbook and have looked at the Babbo and, while they have their strong points, this is not the type of thing I am looking for.)

Any details you can provide on why these books are important (i.e. who the author is, how they have influenced Italian cooking, etc.) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for the assistance.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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The Food of Italy by Waverly Root is an old but very useful survey of Italian regional cooking, but it is not a cookbook.

Fred Plotkin's La Terra Fortunata is highly regarded, and seems very authentic for Friuli-Venezia Giulia. He has another book on Liguria. I really like Marcella Hazan for Reggio-Emilia, but i am no judge of its authenticity. This book is particularly useful, because it's from the sixties, so she really makes an effort to explain the basic concepts.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)
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