Most helpful critical review
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Not THAT great, definitely not that authentic
on 14 November 2012
Everyone seems to be raving about how authentic this book is, but it's really not. Around one out of every three recipes (often on the same page) says 'this isn't how an Italian would do it...don't tell an Italian!' or 'don't invite an Italian!'. Cute, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was taught to cook by my dad who used to live in Italy, and the recipes in here go against some of the basics I was taught (I have actually checked, he didn't make this stuff up) - egg whites in the carbonara, for example. Don't tell an Italian! Yeah...they'd be able to tell.
I have the basics of Italian cooking more or less down (don't get me wrong, the Master classes in this book are VERY useful for the things you just wouldn't normally do, like making pasta), what I need help with is learning how to season food properly to make it really Italianicious - I always err too far on the side of caution. Unfortunately that's the one thing this book doesn't help with, with the exception of the fresh herbs it pretty much doesn't mention seasoning in the recipes at all, which is a shame. So if you make stuff to the letter the result is very bland, but I guess that's not the intention.
I've also noticed some recipes which are clearly just untested in this book, and a few which are badly edited. The recipe for spaghetti meatballs, for example, kind of just ends halfway through and you have to guess the rest. With a book of this size I suppose that's to be expected but I think they got the scope wrong. They're also missing out on a lot of recipes you'd expect from an Italian cookbook (e.g. chicken cacciatore).
The recipes are good for absolute basics (e.g. how to make pesto) but the proper meal recipes mostly need to be adapted, for which you need some pre-existing understanding that the book's niche doesn't really fit. Good for flicking through and combining bits and pieces, but if you want the Bible of Italian cooking I'm told it's Silver Spoon.