For this month’s #cookbookchat, I’ve decided to select cookbooks about my favourite cuisine – Italian. It has been a tough subject to narrow down, seeing as I own about 324 Italian cookbooks, plus I keep the ‘Italian’ issue of every food magazine AND I still have Italian food magazines that I bought when I lived in Florence many years ago. That’s a lot of pasta and risotto recipes.
But a good Italian cookbook reveals recipes and stories beyond pizza, pasta and risotto. Italian cuisine is more regional and nuanced that many would realise, so my favourite Italian cookbooks are those that dig a little deeper into la cucina italiana.
After much indecision, I’ve narrowed it down to four Italian cookbooks that I love, for different reasons:
// Stefano Manfredi’s Italian Food by Steve Manfredi & David Dale
A recent addition to my cookbook collection, Italian Food is a serious tome divided into regional chapters, each filled with detailed history and authentic recipes (many of which I’d never heard of before). Equal parts inspirational, educational and instructional, this is an Italian cookbook for serious Italophiles.
// Italian Easy – Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers
A London institution and breeding ground for many of England’s top chefs, the River Cafe is well loved for its classic Italian sensibilities. Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey (RIP), perfectly capture the simplicity and generosity of Italian cooking in these cookbooks. As the title suggests, the approachable recipes are designed for home cooks – nothing tricked up here.
// The Top 100 Italian Dishes by Diane Seed
A huge hit in the early ’90s, Diane Seed’s beautifully illustrated Italian cookbooks were early inspirations as I learnt to cook as a teenager. A resident of Rome for decades, Diane brings a wealth of knowledge and insider tips to her vast collection of recipes.
// The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
One of the world’s leading authorities on Italian cuisine, Marcella Hazan introduced traditional Italian techniques and ingredients to the English and American public. She passed away in 2013, but her Italian cookbooks are seminal works that weave recipes, memories and advice together to form the ultimate guide to Italian cooking.
Special mentions also to Made in Italy by Silvia Colloca, which I previously reviewed here; The Silver Spoon Book of Pasta by Phaidon Publishing, my pasta bible; and Modern Italian Cooking by Stefano de Pieri, which has the best fresh tomato sugo recipe.