..then I believe it would be one of my best dining experiences.
I not only collect cookbooks, but I actively use them. This is a fantastic cookbook that focuses on the Campania region in Southern Italy, and for me, it's in the same vein of excellence as Anne Willan: From My Chateau Kitchen. Probably because of several factors present in each book; the love of culinary arts is obvious and there are narratives that explain, teach or entertain. They both highlight the cooking style of a region and success with the recipes is achievable.
I like the organization of the A16 better, with the chapters on Antipasti, Pizza, Zuppa, Seafood all the way to Gelato. The book is the size and weight of a college textbook, with nice paper stock and photography as good as it gets. Other reviews have mentioned the wine section, which is substantial and gave me new wines to try that I hadn't heard of or tried before. I am fortunate to have a wine store (The Wine House) that carries many of the suggestions. I guess that it's no accident they are listed in the resources section at the end of the book. But I digress.
What carries a cookbook for me is more than being an instructional manual, but the how's and why's and history of a cuisine. In most any country, cooking is part of the cultural foundation, and while that may not be necessary to know, for me, it adds something. In that, A16 delivers. The section on Naples and pizza was just perfect for me. From what I read, I'll never look at a mass market pizza the same way again. Nor will I buy crushed canned tomatoes again either, instead, I'll opt for the canned whole tomatoes and crush them myself. Little gems like these are throughout the book.
Make no mistake, ingredients are at the forefront of A16's cooking and depending upon where you live, some might be a challenge to find. If that is the case, the resources section at the end of the book I mentioned will be helpful in finding some of the more esoteric items. However, even the simple items like salt and flour are given their due, and types and proper uses are given. The attention to detail and the obvious love of cooking are what make this book excellent and why it will find its way into homes and bookshelves of cooks everywhere.
If you love cooking and cookbooks, you'll love this book, more so if you love Italian cuisine and wine. For yourself or for others, this is a nice gift for all but the novice cook.