Felicity O’Driscoll Book Reviews Issue 211

By Cuisine3 Minutes
April 12, 2022By Cuisine

Felicity O’Driscoll of Cook the Books reveals her favourite Italian cookbooks. Find out more at cookthebooks.co.nz or visit 19 Williamson Avenue, Grey Lynn, Auckland.

 

ESSENTIALS OF CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING

MARCELLA HAZAN, KNOPF DOUBLEDAY, $74.99

That it contains a recipe with just two ingredients, yet the cooking directions run to two pages says all you need to know. If you take the simplest in-season ingredients and cook them correctly, the result will be sublime. Many say it’s worth owning for the focaccia recipe alone, but for me it’s the tomato sauce with onion and butter; something absolutely magic happens in that pot. The two-ingredient recipe? Roast Chicken with Lemon – make sure you follow every step.

   

OSTERIA

SLOW FOOD EDITORE, RIZZOLI, $55

A cookbook 25 years in the making. This companion to Slow Food’s Osterie d’Italia – its annual guide to the small restaurants of Italy – takes 1000 recipes from these restaurants and translates them for the home cook. With everything from antipasti to dolci and indexed by 23 regions, it is encyclopaedic in detail. So whether you prefer your mussels as they do in Puglia or Sardegna, or your risotto as from Calabria or Lombardia, it’s all here.

 

PASTA GRANNIES

VICKY BENNISON, HARDIE GRANT, $55

What’s not to love about an Italian nonna hand-making pasta? I almost love the little insert book where you get to meet the nonne more than the recipes. Almost. Mostly in their 80s – though Concetta is 93 and Giuseppa is 95 – the nonne all still make fresh pasta daily. The recipes are quite simple, though as Lucia (aged 85) says, “When you have great ingredients, you don’t have to worry about the cooking. They do it for you.”

 

GASTRONOMY OF ITALY

ANNA DEL CONTE, PAVILION BOOKS, $75

First published in the 1990s and fully revised in 2013, this is as much a dictionary and reference book as it is a cookbook. Born in Milan, Anna arrived in Britain in 1949 when the nearest many Brits had got to pasta was Heinz Spaghetti. Her love for the cuisine of her homeland, and her ability to write about it, triggered something of a culinary revolution and inspired a whole generation of new cooks. An absolute classic to be read from cover to cover.