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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 27 February 2007
If your budget won't stretch to the hardback edition which is highly recommended for its superb photography and sumptuous presentation, this is the next best thing.

'Elizabeth David discovered her taste for good food and wine when she lived with a French family while studying history and literature at the Sorbonne.
A few years after her return to England, she made up her mind to learn how to cook so that she could reproduce for herself and her friends some of the food that she had come to appreciate in France. Subsequently Mrs David lived and kept house in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, as well as in England ....'

Fresh lemons enhance the plain white cover which opens to 376 matt pages, packed full of information and recipes, written in the typical Elizabeth David style.
The book opens with an introduction, notes about the previous editions and finishes with a 37 page index.
Sandwiched in between are the recipes, titles in both Italian and English( if applicable), split over the following chapters:

* Italian Dishes in Foreign Kitchens
* The Italian Store Cupboard
* Kitchen Equipment
* Hors d'Oeuvre and Salads
* Soups
* Pasta Asciutta
* Ravioli, Gnocchi etc
* Rice
* Haricot Beans, Chick Peas, Polenta etc
* Eggs, Cheese Dishes ,Pizza etc
* Fish Soups
* Fish
* Meat
* Poultry & Game
* Vegetables
* Sweets, sectioned into 'Fruit' and 'Ices'
* Sauces
* Preserves
* Cheeses
* Notes and Nooks on Italian Wines
* Some Italian Cookery Books
* Guides to Food & Wine in Italy

A scattering of black and white illustrations break up the text, which is simple in places and more complex where it needs to be, e.g.:

'Dentice (Dentex)
A Mediterranean fish of which there is no equivalent in northern waters. At its best grilled or roasted.'

The Daurade of Provence. A large Mediterranean fish with, in spite of its name - which implies gold-fish - silvery scales. The nearest approach to it to be found in England, is the sea bream, which can be used for the recipe below.
There are two good ways of cooking this fish, in `cartoccio' (fish cooked in paper cases), page 146, and with a sauce of white wine and sultanas, which can be applied very successfully to carp and also to fresh haddock.'

Then follows the recipe for 'Orata al Vino Bianco' (Orata cooked in white wine).

'When it was first published, 'Italian Food', Elizabeth David's magnificent survey of the varied food and cookery of Italy's many regions, proved an inspiration to British cooks. In it, she conveyed all the richness, the colour and variety of this remarkable cooking tradition. The popularity of Italian food today and the ready availability of ingredients means that even the busiest cook can re-create such tempting dishes as 'roasted red peppers',' Piedmontese cheese fondue', 'fettuccine with fresh tomato sauce' and' chicken breasts with ham and cheese'.

'This edition of Italian Food differs from several of its predecessors chiefly in that revisions made over many years in the form of footnotes have now been incorporated into the main body of the text...........References to numerous shops, at one time sources of supply of imported Italian foodstuffs, but now vanished, have been eliminated. When it came to my original chapter on the wines of Italy I found that almost everything I wrote in 1954 had receded into history......'.
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on 18 March 2003
Since i bought this last year, I have used it incessantly - unlike modern cookbooks, which are merely compendiums of gastroporn with the name of a celebrity chef or plush restaurant attached, this is an enthralling guide to Italian food for the simple reason that it is about the ingredients, not the end result - it matters less how it looks, which seems to be the sole criteria for so many cookbooks these days, and more about how it iwill ultimately taste. Furthermore, David was a brilliant food-writer. She understood so much more about the historic, cultural and social importance of food - how many other cookbooks would have a simple recipe for pasta with garlic and olive oil, whith the explanation that (at least when the book was first written in the 1950s) many Italians can't afford the ingredients for more extravagant dishes? none, I expect. My only quibble is that there is little by way of Sicilian delicacies - and having been to that Island, I know there are many - also, the ediiton I bought didn't have the original illustrations by Renato Guttuso; fortunately, I manged to pick-up in a secondhand bookshop recenty the Penguin paperback edition from 1979 (I think) which does have them. Guttuso was the greatest Italian artist of the 20th century, admittedly painting in the idion of Social Realism, and the illustrations add an authentic air of Italiana to the book. A must buy - and a must read.
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on 31 May 2001
Elizabeth's groundbreaking book is every bit as readable as Nigella and rather than listing fashionable recipies with "ideas" from all over Europe it concentrates on Italian food from risotto to tiramasu and everything in between. The research for this book is outstanding and for anyone who doesn't know the Italian culinary world beyond pizza/pasta this book will show you (and for those that do it will entertain, interest and educate you). It is every bit as relevant as whenit was first published and extremely affordable. A classic and a must for any serious cook.
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on 1 April 2000
Elizabeth David has done more for good food than anyone. She virtually invented the cookbook. I have been using our copy of this Italian food classic for the last 35 years. Finally I must replace it because page 228 has gone missing with a favourite pork recipe!
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on 13 June 2011
I was ashamed to call myself a cook without an Elizabeth David in my collection. Now I have three books and Italian food was the first. I quote; "In early 1950s David set out for Italy determined to show a ration weary British public that Italian food was more than spaghetti in tomato sauce."
If you think you already know ALL about Italian food, try this, you will learn a lot more. I read this while watching "Two Greedy Italian's" on TV. The two Italian chefs travelled all around Italy, learning and demonstrating the recipes. I fell in love with Italy, its people and food. Her Writing(David's) is inspirational. With a handful of this or a touch of that.(There are many that copy her style these days)Without the conventional list of ingredients and weights given, you are invited to cook these dishes using your own preferences and taste to guide you. Just by reading this book you will learn a lot more about food. And will remind you of a lot you have forgetten. Great bedtime reading, if you can sleep without running down stairs to ransack the fridge!
The other books by David in my collection are "French Provincial Cooking" This is considered to be the crowning acheivement of David's career, gathered from great chefs as well as well as local cooks, and one of the finest bibliographies of good cookery books ever compiled. And,"Mediterranean food and other writings." Now I just need the one named 'Summer Cooking,' which I hope will be ordered next week, and I'm all set.
Elizabeth David has led the way in this style of cooking. Eat your heart out Delia Smith! All of these books are from Amazon. Thanks for reading, enjoy your meals.
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on 10 November 2001
I first used this book in 1972 when I lived in Rome. My Italian wasn't good enough to follow a recipe book, and I came across this in the english language bookshop there.
Not only are the recipes authentic, but the book is a sheer pleasure to read, a gastronomic tour of Italy. The food preparation guidelines are clear and easy to follow and the results are exquisite. I have purchased this book at least 5 times in paperback, because every time I buy it somebody asks me if they can borrow it. I have a well loved copy of the hardback book which is beautifully illustrated and would make an ideal Christmas present for a foodie. All of Elizabeth David's books are very readable and wonderfully researched.
If I had to choose one cookbook from my collection it would be this one.
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on 10 October 2010
My 1960 something copy of this splendid, simple, unfussy and much used guide was, until my new purchase, held together with elastic bands and faith. If the binding of the new copy endures as long as the old did, it will outlast me by some years. To those who have been in a similar position and are considering renewing, I can only say that the quality is unchanged though the layout and typeface are clearer and more up-tp-date. To anyone who has never encountered or used this classic work, or any other of her books, I can say that Elizabeth David remains unchallenged; single-handed she led us out of culinary darkness and - thank God - she was never a celebrity chef!
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on 31 January 2016
Essential Italian cook book written as story by a superb cook - essential for any would be 'foody'. This is to replace my worn out 40 year old paperback edition which taught me how to cook authentic Italian dishes. Cannot fault the items which are perfect and exactly as expected or the service.
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on 1 June 2015
This classic cookbook is a joy to read. It's not like the usual cookbook because there are no examples of how the dish should look. The pictures are there to inspire you.
The recipes are Elizabeth David at her best.
A truly wonderful book.
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on 27 April 2016
This was to replace a well used copy which was starting to disintegrate. It was mcuh bigger than I expected and does not fit properly on my kitchen book shelves. It would be helpful if dimensions of books could be given
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