When most Americans think of Italian food, spaghetti with meatballs and pizza come to mind. However, they’re generally unaware that Italy has a very diverse selection of choices. Many of these exotic recipes and techniques are available in books at any major bookstore. Traditional Italian cookbooks often contain detailed directions and color photographs useful for teaching authentic methods to cooks with any level of experience.
There are three prominent Italian cookbook authors in the United State today. Marcella Hazan, Giuliano Bugialli and Mario Batali have written books for people with limited familiarity with traditional Italian cooking. A few of these volumes are listed below. Picking up any of these books will give the reader a head start in creating sumptuous Italian food. Most of these cookbooks include basic recipes and methods. These simple techniques can teach even the most inexperienced cook valuable skills. With the aid of these invaluable cookbooks and some practice, basic ingredients can be turned into sublime dishes. Pick one up and try it today.
2010 (updated 1992, 1st edition 1973); New York; Alfred A. Knopf
For those who want an overview of Italian recipes and cooking techniques, there is no better choice. This book has extensive information on many areas, including meats and seafood, frittate, vegetables and salads, risotto, polenta, gnocchi, as well as dessert. There are also a few examples of what a typical Italian menu might look like. This book, beautifully illustrated by Karin Kretschman, is a good place to start for a beginner who would like to learn about Italian cooking and try a wide range of dishes.
2006 (1st edition 1986); New York; Alfred A. Knopf
This book is not so much about traditional recipes as it is about recipes developed by Marcella herself in an Italian style. Hazan goes into detail about how the recipes were created and the particular styles and methods used in each. The detailed instructions and descriptions make this book easy to follow, enjoyable and informative. The 12 full colour photo pages make it fun to look at, too.
2004; New York; Harper Collins
Marcella Hazan wrote this book based on her master classes and gives a wealth of tips and information on Italian cooking techniques and philosophies. There are 120 recipes that allow the reader ample opprtunity for practice. Hazan’s style is eloquent, if at times blunt, and makes the book a pleasure to read. This is the book for anyone who wants to learn why a recipe works, instead of just following simple directions on a page.
2005; New York; Harper Collins
Mario Batali has stated his belief that, for Italians, the best cooking is done at home, not in restaurants. This cookbook is full of recipes that can be prepared at home. It heavily emphasizes pasta, which Mario believes holds the most importance in Italian cooking. Other chapters include meats, fish, and vegetables. The simplicity of the recipes makes this book good for beginners.
2010; New York; Ecco
Follow the easy recipes in this book for delicious food. Some of the more unusual ingredients may take some effort to find, but the results are well worth the trouble. The photographs of the food by Quentin Bacon are also very visually appealing.
1990 (updated, 1st edition 1976); New York; Times Books
Along with the recipes, Bugialli gives historical perspectives on the methods and techniques used. Rather than expecting the reader to simply follow a recipe, he explains the reason behind each cooking step. The book includes chapters on antipasti, pastas and sauces, meats, fish and poultry, bread, vegetables, salads and desserts.
2000 (revised, 1st edition 1988); New York; Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Southern Italian cooking uses pasta as one of the basic staple foods. This book, lavishly illustrated with photographs by Andy Rayn, includes fresh and dried pasta, gnocchi and couscous in many variations. Each recipe is preceded by some information on historical and cultural context, making the book informative and interesting.