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Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library) [Paperback]

Pelegrino Artusi , Luigi Ballerini , Murtha Baca , Stephen Sartarelli
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 34.99
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Book Description

27 Dec 2003 Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
First published in 1891, Pellegrino Artusi's La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangier bene has come to be recognized as the most significant Italian cookbook of modern times. It was reprinted thirteen times and had sold more than 52,000 copies in the years before Artusi's death in 1910, with the number of recipes growing from 475 to 790. And while this figure has not changed, the book has consistently remained in print. Although Artusi was himself of the upper classes and it was doubtful he had ever touched a kitchen utensil or lit a fire under a pot, he wrote the book not for professional chefs, as was the nineteenth-century custom, but for middle-class family cooks: housewives and their domestic helpers. His tone is that of a friendly advisor - humorous and nonchalant. He indulges in witty anecdotes about many of the recipes, describing his experiences and the historical relevance of particular dishes. Artusi's masterpiece is not merely a popular cookbook; it is a landmark work in Italian culture. This English edition (first published by Marsilio Publishers in 1997) features a delightful introduction by Luigi Ballerini that traces the fascinating history of the book and explains its importance in the context of Italian history and politics. The illustrations are by the noted Italian artist Giuliano Della Casa.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 653 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (27 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802086578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802086570
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 14.7 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The 790 recipes accumulated in successive editions of Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (never out of print since its first edition in 1891) can't be said to herald the birth of Italian cuisine. That consists of the cookery of many regions, and Pellegrino Artusi's masterpiece takes too little account of most of them (Sicily and Calabria, to name a pair) and too much of others (his favoured areas, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany). Nonetheless, Artusi's cookbook appeared shortly after the political unification of the country, and its unremitting culinary patriotism in the face of French domination is one of its most endearing qualities.

To explain the title: Artusi's science can be fusty or precious; he frequently lets us know how a dish comforts or afflicts the stomach. But his art, within its gently chauvinistic limits, can't be reproached. The recipes, gathered and codified at the beginning of the modern culinary era, are usually extremely precise, including weights, exact instructions about how to cut things up, tie them together, when and how to combine them, and why. Beyond the utility of his text, Artusi's spirit informs it, on every page. He's funny, garrulous (but never a bore), encouraging, adventurous. He treats his readers as if he were (I quote the foreword to this edition) "a favourite uncle, who happens to be a knowledgeable cook".

It is not necessary to be a bold cook to learn Italian cuisine from Artusi, just a willing one. Though he does not always tell exactly how to mix flour, egg, and water to make pasta dough, he's properly meticulous in calibrating all baked dishes (no mean feat for a time when kitchen ovens were still a novelty). A good Northerner, he relies on butter much more than oil and, perhaps because he didn't come across the variety of products we're familiar with today even in Canada, uses Parmesan and prosciutto at almost every opportunity and in instances we would not readily credit.

Artusi (that's how his book is known in Italy, it's so beloved) is a mix of the odd, the disregarded, and the durable. In these pages are recipes that will survive as long as there's an Italy: many delicate variations on the theme of gnocchi (including an intriguing version with finely ground chicken); plenty of forthright, peasanty dishes; and, best of all for my palate, the various sweets that take up almost one third of the book. Here is God's plenty of desserts, lovingly listed and in gorgeous variety, enough for several lifetimes. Our author is said to have died prematurely from a surfeit of food (likely including plenty of dolci) at the age of 94. Buon appetito! --Ted Whittaker,


'Artus's book stands with Manzon's great novel, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), and the music of Verdi as works that not only are great unto themselves but represented a sense of identity and self-worth to a nascent country with no nationalistic feeling ... Artusi chose to give Italians their definition by telling them how they ate ... Anyone who seeks to know Italian food avoids Artusi at his or her peril. He is the fountainhead of modern Italian cookery.' 'One of the defining documents of what it means to be Italian.' 'A landmark work in Italian culture.'

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jules
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought the Kindle version as I have bad hands and the paperback is very heavy. This is an excellent book
HOWEVER - none of the diagrams which form part of some of the recipes, nor the illustrations have been added
SURELY if you sell a book it should be complete? I don't remember seeing a warning that it is sold without illustrations, but someone correct me if it did.

I am very sad that part of the book is missing and I would have gladly paid a bit more to have them included as some are special templates for pasta sizes etc.

Artusi is a wonderful and essential book for cooks... shame it had to come incomplete.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian cookery 29 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After several attempts to learn about Italian cooking, I decided to get this well-known (and loved)book, albeit in translation.Great fun to read and many great recipes to try. I expect to experiment rather than accurately follow some of the rather vague instructions for some recipes. Well worth a look if you're at all interested in food and cooking history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must have! 11 July 2014
By boo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Was recommended this book by a foodie in Bologna. He told me that this is the book every household would have, passed down from generations with notes added. The book is most comprehensive, and although it is about "Italian cooking", the emphasis is on Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. This is not a book for the faint-hearted, and not for someone who just wants to quickly whip up a easy weekday supper.The book is about 100 years old (-ish) so it's like reading an Italian version of Mrs Beeton -- part of it may seem a little dated but absolutely essential for anyone who is seriously interested in understanding Italian cooking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 4 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
love it
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time classic 28 July 2010
By Mario
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Though most recipes are not usable directly as they are written (after 150 years from the first publication, some ingredients are hard to find), the book gives the deepest insight on the spirit of Italian cooking available so far.
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