Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Roundup of our Favourite Italian Cookbooks

Italian cooking is about far more than food.

Each authentic dish expresses the history and traditions of a region, the seasonal flavour of local ingredients or the powerful relationship Italians have with technique and taste.

Some Italians will tell you that this innate understanding can’t be learnt from any cookbook and that skills are handed down through generations.

However, if you don’t have an Italian family kitchen to hand, or a long-line of pasta aficionados to turn to, there are plenty of books that do a good job of filling in. Here are few of our favourites:

 The Silver Spoon, 1950: No aspiring Italian cook should be without this bible. Italy’s most successful cookbook, ‘ll cucchiaio d’argento’, was compiled by a group of Italian cookery experts more than 50 years ago. It’s the ultimate cookery compendium and contains regional specialities from across the country. It’s been updated over the years but still sticks to its philosophy of authenticity. Supplementing the recipes are guides on aspects such as 'how to set an Italian table' and 'how to compose a traditional Italian meal'.

The Classic Italian Cook Book, Marcella Hazan,1990: An authority on Italian cuisine, Hazan’s first cookbook strictly follows traditional Italian techniques, and her recipes are blissfully untouched by American or British influences. With a preference for preparing food by hand, rather than machine, and cooking on the stove rather than oven, Hazzan’s recipes truly communicate the intrinsic relationship Italians have with cooking.

Made in Italy, Giorgio Locatelli, 2006: The owner of London’s Michellin starred Italian restaurant, Locatelli’s love affair with food began aged five, when he started helping out in his family’s restaurant in northern Italy. Five years in the making, Made in Italy saw Locatelli returning to his home village to reconnect with his culinary roots. Expect everything from pizettes and nettle risotto, lobster linguine and Sorrento lemon soufflĂ©, to cepe salad and calves liver in vinegar.

Food of Italy, Claudia Roden, 1990: As an English food-writer, Roden realised that she’s need to put in some real legwork to compile an authentic Italian cookbook – and it paid off. Visiting kitchens in every region in Italy, the pages are enriched with history, geography, culture and regional tales, making this far more than a collection of good recipes. From dumplings and deserts to pastas and polenta, learn how to cook more than 300 authentic regional dishes, as well as gain an understanding of distinct flavours across the country.

The Geometry of Pasta, Jacob Kenedy, 2010: For something super-stylish and more contemporary, look no further than this classy, black and white book. Focussing on the basic principle of matching the right pasta to the right sauce is an innate skill that Italians acquire through years of observation and practice. Us Brits, however, could benefit from a few pointers. Aimed at helping you to develop an instinct for matching pasta and sauce, The Geometry of Pasta reveals the science, culture, and philosophy behind pasta shapes and sauces. Simple to follow, a delight to read, and it looks great on the kitchen shelf!

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