Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything you could ever need to know about Italian Cooking, 20 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Cookery) (Hardcover)
I love Italian food. Simple, and with a focus on the best presentation of fresh ingredients. Of course, not being Italian and not having been immersed in an Italian grandmother's cooking throughout my childhood, I'm sure that my main experiences of Italian food is one degree removed from the real thing.

For those who, like me, do want to experience the real thing comes The Silver Spoon, a comprehensive cookbook of regional Italian food. The blub claims that this is Italy's best selling cookery book (although, at 1504 pages, I'm not sure a word as simple as "book" covers this. "Tome", perhaps, or is that a little pretentious?), and I can easily believe it. Over the 60 years that this book has been published in Italy, it has evolved into the definitive source, containing over 2,000 recipes and around 450,000 words. It is weighty too, at 3.2kg, it is the second heaviest cook book I own, the weighty crown won by Larousse Gastronomique at 3.4kg!

The book is broken down mainly into the constituent parts of a meal, with colour coded chapters on: antipasti, first course, eggs and frittata, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry, game, cheese, desserts and finally a chapter on menus for festive occasions and one on menus by special chefs. Within each chapter, the recipes are arranged by the main ingredient; so, for example, all cauliflower recipes are together. The recipes are generally short, avoiding over complication; most of the recipes are unaccompanied by photos. This is a book stuffed full of text, designed to live in the kitchen and be used. It's not one for the coffee table.

Talking of cauliflower, we tried the cauliflower with ham; where boiled cauliflower is then roasted with ham, parmesan, boiled eggs and fried breadcrumbs. It sounds unconventional, but was actually delicious, with the flavours blending well together, offset by the crunch of the breadcrumbs. And this shows the big advantage of a book like this: it's so comprehensive that no matter what you have in the fridge, there will be some new recipe to try.

Some of them are surprising to me, and show that, if nothing else, traditions can change. I'm not sure you would have found recipes for chutneys, burgers and tagiatelle with yabbies, butter and sesame seeds when the book was first published in 1950. And I'm not quite sure how keen I am on any of the eleven recipes for brains.

However, this book does deserve to fight for a place on the cookbook shelf, as a definitive source for Italian recipes.
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