Comprehensive, authentic, good Italian cookbook?
June 14, 2008 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Italian Cookbook: I'm going to live in Italy for 2 months this summer. Tell me what cookbook I should bring along!

I'd like to come out of Italy with some favorite recipes that I first experienced authentically in restaurants there and then figured out how to reproduce. I'd like a relatively comprehensive cookbook that I can go to when I eat something I like and look up what was in it and how it's made.

(Side question: What food stuff (,spices, cookware, etc) should I bring back from Italy that's hard to get outside the country?)
posted by sirion to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't what you asked, but wouldn't it be easier to look it up online?
posted by k8t at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2008

Also, where are you going in Italy? Northern and Southern Italy in particular have quite different cuisines.
posted by k8t at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2008

I would take The Silver Spoon. Yo might want to by a copy in Italy since it is quite a heavy tome.
posted by laukf at 7:07 AM on June 14, 2008

Italian cookery is intensely regional. Where are you going?
posted by peachfuzz at 7:22 AM on June 14, 2008

This isn't a cookbook, but Heat devotes a lot of time to Italian cuisine and history. I think it would add depth to whatever recipes/techniques you learn. Besides that, its a hell of a fun read (or listen, if audiobook).

As far as hard-to-find food stuff, fennel pollen comes to mind!
posted by for_serious at 7:58 AM on June 14, 2008

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Marcella Hazan
posted by elis at 9:33 AM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I use the Hazan as well (bought due to a similar question and recommendation of my own back in the day) and it's great. It explains the recipes' relationships to the regions from which they come, and any deviations are also explained. I love it.
posted by rhizome at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2008

2nding The Silver Spoon. Excellent TOME of Italian cookery wisdom. (and it is huge, buying it in Italy is good advice)
posted by frwagon at 10:33 AM on June 14, 2008

Thirding the Hazan recommendation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on June 14, 2008

The Silver Spoon, mentioned above, is essential. Only available in Italian for over 50 years, it's like the Joy of Cooking for generations of Italians. An excellent book for any cook.
Also, Cook's Illustrated magazine publishes a uniformly superb series of cook books, 'Best Recipe Series'.
In this event I highly recommend their Italian Classics.
And you could bring us all back some Limoncello. :)
posted by dawson at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2008

As far as I remember about the Silver Spoon, it is a classic but a bit dated in some respects; I think you might find it hard to find an English version in Italy (but most bookshops in major cities usually have a foreign language section AND a cookbook section); don't know about the Hazan.

Also, cuisine varies wildly from region to region (and even two cities 10 miles apart can have really different typical dishes), so Italian cuisine is quite a broad term (from an Italian -and foodie- point of view, anyway :-)). I'd also recommend to bring home a small italian to english dictionary - if you don't have one already - and a few italian books oriented on local cuisine: every region has its smaller publishers and I found locally published cookbooks to be the most accurate with respect to traditions and recipes.

Spices: also depends on where in Italy you'll be, but I think you can find pretty much everything at home (with the possible exception of local varieties of dried chilies) - it's more about the local varieties of legumes like beans or lentils, rice, not to mention wines, cheeses or meats!

Cookware: I think you can get good deals on clay cookware, which is somewhat typical; again, it depends on your destinations. If you have two months, you got plenty of time to explore local open air markets (usually weekly in almost all towns/villages) - there's usually a few stalls selling household / kitchen products and the best deals are there.
posted by _dario at 8:22 AM on June 15, 2008

The Splendid Table did a show recently on a trip to Italy and had a whole section where she recommended products that should be bought in Italy if one had that chance (anchovies, etc.)... Note that there are a few things that you are not allowed to bring back through customs - e.g. all meats/meat products are prohibited but not fish.
posted by rosebengal at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2008

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