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La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy Hardcover – October 20, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The most complete and authentic Italian cookbook ever published in the English language, featuring more than 2,000 recipes by home cooks, for home cooks.

“This bible of the Italian culinary tradition is now available in English, a must-have reference book for all who love cooking and eating the dishes of Il Bel Paese—Italy.”
~Lidia Bastianich, author of Lidia’s Italy

“If you have been to Italy and still dream about the fish soup you had in Liguria, the peppery pasta of Rome, or the seafood risotto of Venice—not to worry—all these dishes can be found here. This book shows that trends may come and go but the tradition of great, heartwarming Italian food is here to stay.”
~Biba Caggiano, author of Biba’s Italy

“As one would expect from a book put together by the members of the Italian Academy of Cuisine, this represents the apex of Italian food culture. The book is an essential contribution to our understanding of the intricate complexities of real Italian food. I have found here recipes unknown to me, despite my having studied the subject for more than five decades.”
~Comm. Antonio Carluccio, OBE, author of Italia: The Recipes and Customs of the Regions

"This impressive collection of recipes is a testament to the extraordinary diversity of Italian cuisine."
~Giuliano Hazan, author of Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta

“A comprehensive book, loaded with interesting recipes. This is the way Italians cook.”
~Pino Luongo, chef and author of Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen and Dirty Dishes

“At a time when regional distinctions are blurring in Italian cuisine, the publication of La Cucina comes as a forceful and comprehensive reminder of the enormous diversity and honest goodness of home cooking, which has always been the true basis for the country’s gastronomy.”
~John Mariani, author of The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink
“Many of us feel we know the regional dishes of Italy, yet this bible of a book broadens our horizons to the unexpected. It will teach you the traditions and ingredients of Italy and an understanding of Italians’ approach to cooking—a book to truly treasure.”
~Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, The River Café

"If you’ve traveled in Italy, you’ve probably wondered why, say, pasta with chickpeas is made differently in towns 10 kilometers apart, or why you have never found that spice cake you loved in Terni anywhere else. That’s because Italian cooking isn’t just regional, it’s microregional as La Cucina proves to fascinating effect. This book packs in so many recipes there’s no room for bucolic back stories, photos or detailed instructions…but what delicious recipes you’ll find…picking and preparing dishes at random will prove an enjoyable game for winter’s day."
~New York Times Book Review

"La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy (Rizzoli, 2009) is a masterpiece of Italian cooking, compiled by the founders of the Italian Academy of Cuisine. It's an essential addition to any cook's library with 2,000 recipes."

"Try to cook your way through one of these books. Bigger is better with new cookbook trend."
~The Associated Press

"The book is absurdly comprehensive…"
~Time Out New York

"La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy (Rizzoli; 928 pages; $45). More than 2,000 recipes from all over Italy, collected a half century ago by cultural preservationists and published here for the first time in English. The recipes are neatly organized and identified by region - there are dozens of recipes just for anchovies (yes, that is a good thing). Every home should have a copy."
~The San Francisco Chronicle

"The book reads that way, familial and familiar, idiosyncratic yet organized, and feels at times like spending a year in Italian kitchens, circa 1950. Nonni would approve."
~Foreword Magazine

About the Author

The Italian Academy of Cuisine was founded in 1953 in Milan to preserve the gastronomical heritage of Italy. Each year it hosts a number of education programs and awards prizes to leaders in gastronomy. Among its publications are a monthly magazine and a restaurant guide.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847831477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847831470
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 3 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I hadn't really paid much attention to this book -- all the copies I'd seen were sold shrink-wrapped, and I'm not keen on dropping lots of money on a book I'm not at least somewhat familiar with. "La Cucina" hadn't gotten a lot of press, but it's certainly difficult to miss on the shelf, so when I did finally get around to flipping through an unwrapped copy, I was sold on the spot.

There is nothing wrong with The Silver Spoon or La Marcella -- the Silver Spoon is bare-bones textwise but has astonishingly beautiful photography, and "Essentials" is more or less the Italian equivalent of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But both of those books focus largely on the commonalities of Italian cuisine; as any aficionado of Italian food knows, Italian cooking is highly regionalized, varying drastically from the Arab and Greek influences of southern Italy to the powerful flavors of central Italy (especially Rome, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna) to the Germanic, Slavic, and French influences of northern Italy. It's reasonably easy to find good books on the individual regions, but efforts such as the usually reliable Claudia Roden's the Food of Italy: Region by Region tend to fall flat by virtue of having to cover everything at once.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is similar to The Silver Spoon including a vast array of recipes (over 900 pages!) but La Cucina provides the history and background of most recipes, along with a tag telling you from where in Italy the recipe originated. There are also anecdotes aoute traditions and uses of the foods peppered throughout the book. Italy is a small country, but the cuisine is very different depending on the different regions. And there is a mind-boggling array of recipes here. I was in search of a particular cookie I had been given to sample by my Italian language teacher...I have looked everywhere for it without success. I did find it here. What I also like, in comparison to The Silver Spoon is that the recipes here are much more decriptive. There are no photographs, so you'll need to use your imagination. But the selection of recipes is very impressive.
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This is sort of an encyclopedia of Italian local cooking….very useful to consult for ideas and traditional recipes. The stated purpose is to record local traditional recipes, regardless of how they might translate into modern or American tastes or practices. The recipe instructions are cursory, as is the practice in Italian cookbooks, so this book is probably more appropriate for experienced cooks. There are no photos or illustrations. It is very comprehensive and has many recipes from regions less familiar to USA cooks, such as Le Marche or Basilicata. Ingredients which are traditional are specified, even when they are unusual or unavailable in the US.
Recommended highly as a supplement to a library of Italian cookbooks.
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While I am not 100% satisfied, this is a great concoction of recipes organized in a new way. What I'm missing is at least some yummy images (there is absolutely none of any kind) and an alphabetical index in addition to the 2 provided. As is, there is an index by region and another by main ingredient, but if you're after just something italian, you can't simply go to an index in an alphabetical order. I'm in a process of compiling my own as it is going to be invaluable.

As a big plus, with a ton of recipes there is no BS included, just plain, concise description of ingredients and how it goes together. But it also means that this is not for a beginning cook, yet I think everyone can count on finding a cooking inspiration here.

I love the fresh layout as well. This is just about as different as it gets in cookbooks.
As a side note: another reviewer cannot find classic "bolognese sauce" I can't either, which only adds to my above point of the need for an alphabetical index. I actually don't think there is "bolognese" in this one. While considered by many a classic, it has been the most bastardized meat sauce in culinary history. As such it may no longer fall within the fine Italian cuisine category. I'm just guessing here, but truth be told someone ought to go to jail for letting this sauce become a sour point of Italian cuisine
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At 928 pages, including a very decent index (organized by Region and by major ingredient, separately), this is a veritable 'tome.' It is sponsored by 'The Italian Academy of Cuisine' and it is published by Rizzoli, a fine Italian publisher. This does not rate as one of their high-end efforts however, since their work is usually 'coffee-table' lovely and dripping with photographs whereas this has the same type of cover and binding as an Italian dictionary intended for years of repeated reference.

The recipes are culled from extensive research and interview efforts at the level of local sources. For most readers, the recipes preserve traditions and, even, curiosities of regional Italian cuisine. This is not the place to look for the 'best' modern interpretation of much-loved Italian food. I am not Italian but I do cook and I have spent a good many weeks in restaurants in Italy. I can report that one of my favourite restaurants in Venice offers 'Steak in the Florentine Manner' by finishing with fresh lemon juice and olive oil and freshly cracked peppercorns--a practice this book says is not authentic. You will note that Venice is not Florence: I've had the dish there as well but it was not finished where I could see how it was done.

The Table of Contents is organized into: Antipasti, Pizza and Sauces; Soups; Pasta, Polenta and Rice; Fish; Meat and Poultry; Vegetables; Cheese Dishes and Desserts. A conversion chart is provided for measures. I wanted to treasure this book...but I admit that most readers will be much better pleased with the work of Marcella Hazan or many another contemporary Italian cookbook author. I would grab Mario Battali's books way before I purchased this one (and I did.
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