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Italian Food (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Italian Food (Penguin Classics) + French Provincial Cooking (Penguin Classics) + A Book of Mediterranean Food (New York Review Books Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181554
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

France and Italy are especially famous for wine and food. David studies and analyzes cooking the way a scholar analyzes literature, and, as a result, her titles are far more than just cookbooks. Along with the recipes, of which there are many, she explains at length the histories of the dishes and offers splendid advice on serving wine with the meals. Both volumes, published in 1960 and 1958, respectively, contain forewords by Julia Child. Italian Food was the author's personal favorite.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Elizabeth David (1913–1992) published eight books during her lifetime, from the evocative Book of Mediterranean Food in ration-bound 1950 to the masterly English Bread and Yeast Cookery in 1977. Her books are acclaimed not only for their recipes but also for their literary depth. French Provincial Cooking and Italian Food were reissued as Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics in 1999.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I have two copies of this book, one for my pantry and one for the coffee table in my drawing room.
NewEnglandScene
This book, in combination with the above mentioned French book and her Summer Cooking, are THE Elizabeth David books.
"really-siobhan"
It is absolutely the best book I have read (and used constantly) that describes the art of cooking Italian food.
Gerard Cheyne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By M. Fantino on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
While this book on it's own does not complete a cooks library of Italian Cuisine, on the other hand, it does contain the proper approach to the myteries, simpicities and charm of Italian food, all on it's own. The descriptions are very thourough due to it's 1950's audience who may have never heard of Risotto, Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, Gelato, or even olive oil for that matter! However, she writes so comfortably and calm that you can almost picture her leaning against the stovetop. Her book is better than probably 90% of what is out today. Since the cuisine hasn't changed (much), this book is even more useful today than the 1950's, because, now we can taste the ingredients she writes so lovingly about. I often find myself looking up something and end up wandering through other musings she weaves. The artwork is great too, I especially love the painting of The Pasta Eater.
ITALIAN FOOD by Elizabeth David, combined with the works of Waverly Root, Carlo Middione, and Anna Tasca Lanza should be enough to grant anyone Italian citizenship (or at least drooling for it).
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Italian Food' is one of the three major books Elizabeth David wrote in the first five years of her culinary writing career, the other two being `French Provincial Cooking' and her first, `Mediterranean Food'. The titles of two of these three books, being about `Food' and not strictly about `Cooking' is very telling of the fact that Ms. David's major books on food are simply not like any other writer of her generation.

For starters, it is a mistake to see Ms. David as `the English Julia Child'. While Julia Child was possibly the most outstanding teacher of cooking methods writing in English, Ms. David was the most distinguished scholar of English, French, and Italian cooking methods and cuisine. The hallmark of that difference was that while Julia Child reworked and expanded traditional recipes so that no detail was left to chance for the amateur American cook, Ms. David goes to equal lengths to describe exactly how Italians really cook, down to the marked inexactness of their measuring.

Unlike all the great modern writers in English on Italian cuisine such as Marcella Hazan, Giuliano Bugialli, and Lydia Bastianich, Ms. David not only gives us a survey of Italian ingredients, recipes, and methods, she gives us a critique of them as well. Can you possibly imagine Marcella Hazan saying that the Italians generally do not cook eggs very well?

Note that Ms. David is as rigorous about her giving the correct Italian names to things as the very best of the Italian writers, but unlike the Italians, she is really seeing Italian cooking through French colored glasses. Today, we commonly think, for example, of a frittata as a distinct type of dish. Ms. David translates `frittata' into `omelet'.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Cheyne on November 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've been carrying around my 1969 Penguin editon of Elizabeth David's book for over 30 years. It's now a wreck - it's been used so much! It is absolutely the best book I have read (and used constantly) that describes the art of cooking Italian food. Great descriptions of Italian (including regional) ingredients and really easy to follow practical menus. I was so delighted to learn that a new edition of this marvelous book (first published in 1954!) was available.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lorenzo Moog on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have an old Penguin paperback version of this book, in my possession since 1966, held together with duct tape, speckled with with dots of olive oil, pesto and marinara from all these long years of use so it was with great delight that I found this new version on Amazon. It is a standard that I return to again and again for Mrs. David's keen understanding of what makes Italian cusine so superb; impeccable ingredients, careful attention to method and restraint. The recipes from this book taste the most like food I've eaten in Italy because Italian food, while layered with many nuances and flavors is essentially quite simple relying on exquisite freshness and finesse. Elizabeth David brings that lesson home in her wonderfully literate and direct voice sometimes reminding and sometimes demanding what the recipes are expecting from you. As is her wont the book is filled with asides and quotes from Italian writers and thinkers; F.Marinetti, the Italian futurist of the 1930s and Apicius from 30 A.D. and a line like this from Guiseppe Marotta, the Neopolitan writer, who says about spaghetti: "The important thing to remember is to adapt your dish of spaghetti to circumstances and your state of mind". She wins me over with her charming/demanding use of the English language, her dry sense of humor and her obvious love of her subject. Many of the recipes in this book have become part of my repetoire ( Minestra Verde, Budino di Pollo in Brodo, Casoeula, Carote al Marsala & Pesche Ripiene to name a few) while others are simply informative about Italian food and culture. This book, originally published in 1954, holds it's own right now in the 21st century and is a tantalizing and wonderful adventure in cooking and eating. For anyone who enjoys Italy and Italian food this book will give years of service and pleasure.
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