Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Italian Cuisine Cookbooks

by Rosemary Furfaro

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There is a plethora of cookbooks on Italian and regional Italian cooking. At this writing this list represents my favorites. Tomorrow, when a new crop of Italian cookbooks are released to tantalize and tease my taste buds, I'm sure my list of favorites will change. But that's the best part of buying a new Italian cookbook: testing and tasting all the new recipes uncovered from yet another person's family or regional history.

Celebrating Italy
By Carol Field
New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990
$ 25.00, hardcover, 530 pages

This is my favorite Italian cookbook of all time and it will probably remain so. Field covers the holiday meals and food festivals in different regions of Italy with enthusiasm. She unites us with the real Italian spirit on these feast days by giving us an historical account of the special day. Also included are authentic recipes that make you feel as if you're standing in the kitchen of a wise and ancient Italian cook taking lessons as she spins her tale of the meals history.

Foccacia: Simple Breads from the Italian Oven
By Carol Field
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994
$14.95, paperback, 117 pages

I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class from Field where one of her recipes from this book was highlighted. I would never have thought that I would be interested enough in purchasing a book on foccacia -- after all, foccacia is foccacia, right? Well, I was delighted to find this not the case for Field as her focaccia is as light as air and delicious. Lots of great color photos.

Preserving Our Italian Heritage
Tampa: Sons of Italy Florida Foundation, 1990
$13.45, hardcover, 222 pages

A "no frills" cookbook that is dear to my heart. The recipes capture the voices of hundreds of Italian-American cooks through their favorite recipes that reflect their families' Italian roots. This is a jewel of a book that every Italian-American cook wishes they had thought of doing with their grandmas' recipes.

Sicilian and American Pasta: 99 Recipes You Can't Refuse
By John Penza and Tony Corsi
Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1994
$16.95, softcover, 173 pages

Full of authentic Sicilian pasta dishes that reflect their heavy dependence on vegetables, fish and shellfish. Meat and fowl dishes also represented but not as great a number. Charming renderings of fruits, vegetables, fish, etc. Recipes are divided by main ingredient. Each section usually includes a brief history of the ingredient plus an easy how-to-cook discussion.

Cucina Del Mare: Fish and Seafood Italian Style
By Evan Kleiman
New York: William and Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993
$23.00, hardcover, 320 pages

Los Angeles chef, restaurateur and author of several Italian cookbooks, Kleiman has created a simple and straightforward book on cooking fish Italian-style. Covers the many regions in Italy where the cuisines showcase seafood and provides authentic recipes that will not intimidate the novice fish cook.

By Patricia Wells
New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993
$25.00, hardcover, 338 pages

A thorough account of the simple, rustic foods served in all the small family restaurants throughout Italy. Wells takes the reader through each family's personal style of cooking. You feel as if you have pulled up a chair to the dinner table and joined in their infectious camaraderie.

Southern Italian Cooking
By Jo Bettoja with Jane Garmey
New York: Bantam Books, 1991
$24.50, hardcover, 452 pages

Bettoja portrays the cuisine of the south of Italy by incorporating the recipes in a little vignette that sets the scene for each culinary adventure. Her menus are classic so this cookbook is a must for those whose ancestors are gone and who yearn for their Grandmas' Escarole with Pine Nuts and Raisins or Cassata Infornata (baked ricotta pie).

The Vegetarian Table: Italy
By Julia della Croce
San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1994
$19.95, hardcover, 167 pages

Apparently, Chronicle Books intends to publish a series of ethnic vegetarian cookbooks and this is the first. More than 80 hearty vegetable-based recipes reflect classics from many of Italy's regions.

more on Italian Cuisine...
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