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on March 13, 2000
My main quibble with this book is it's title. It isn't really a book about "Italian" cuisine as a whole, but about Florentine cuisine with a generous salute to cooking from other regions and cities. A solid majority of the recipes and comments are, self-admittedly, about Florentine cuisine. Having said that, this is still an excellent book brimming with recipes. As with most of Bugialli's books the recipes occasionally require difficult to find ingredients (potato starch, bitter almonds, etc.) usually without suggesting an acceptable compromise for US cooks. On the whole, however, the recipes are generally very accessible to US cooks. And, so far, every one I've tried has been a success. It's not a book for neophyte cooks, as there are times when certain techniques are assumed.
There are no full color photos as in some of Mr. Bugialli's other books. THERE ARE many simple, basic Florentine and Italian recipes that help you understand that much Italian cooking is based on simplicity, good ingredients, wonderful flavors, and a certain refinement, elegance and finesse that is the essence of Italian cooking.
I personally find all the information from the Florentine perspective very interesting. I plan on doing several dinner parties based on purely Florentine recipes, just because this book has inspired me to do so.
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on February 12, 2003
While not exactly for the beginner, this book will allow anyone with some basic cooking skills to create absolutely marvelous dishes. Be forewarned that many of these recipes take quite a bit of time. You might be better off starting with simpler recipes (such as risotto or sformati) and working up to a more complex one, like the stuffed whole boned chicken.
I have made many of the recipes in this book over the last several years. It has just the right amount of detail on technique--I refer to it from time to time to clarify techniques that are missing in other cookbooks. I cannot imagine a kitchen library without it.
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on August 4, 2009
Quite simply, this book has done more to improve my cooking than any other I can readily call to mind. I would suggest however, that while the beginner cook will derive significant benefit from this book, it may resonate most with those of an intermediate skill level. The author convincingly and clearly shares historical perspective on techniques as well as the recipes themselves. The approach emphasizes simplicity and relies on centuries of tradition, learning, and innovation within the various styles of Italian cuisine. I have tried about ten recipes from the book and all have been winners, yet none were particularly time-consuming, difficult to prepare or relied too heavily on exotic ingredients. If you want to understand more about Italian cooking, or just cooking in general, this is a truly great book to have.
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on September 27, 2011
This is a lovely cookbook with a strong Tuscan focus. The book describes what the French call 'cuisine bourgeoise', i.e. traditional upper middle class food. The author really loves this food and his passion comes through very strongly.

For a number of reasons, I consider the book aimed at people who really love to cook. This and the author's other books are well worth seeking out even in 2011.
- The author has looked at manuscripts from past centuries to ensure that the recipes are fairly historically accurate. So the recipes included are proper Italian recipes.
- The authenticity focus means fewer short cuts and the recipes are not necessarily geared to a "trendy modern" palate.
- The book has no pictures.
- The author has an accompanying volume on techniques Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking and several volumes on regional cuisines (e.g. Guiliano Bugialli's Food of Naples and Campania,Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands). If you want to build a library of Italian cookbooks, I think you should start with Bugialli's many books.

The author would probably consider the audience broader than this. And it is true that many of the recipes are not at all complicated. And all ingredients are readily available in most parts of the world today. So in terms of authenticity the book is lacking a bit in terms of the choice of recipes included. Still, I don't see a reason to seek out an out of print book if you just want a standard Italian cookbook.

If you want to get the book second hand here are some advice on editions: The book was originally published in 1977 and saw its second edition in 1990 and then a reprint in 2005. It seems that the 1990 and 2005 editions are largely similar since they have the same number of pages. So you can safely order the 1990 edition, but not earlier.
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on September 27, 2011
This is a lovely cookbook with a strong Tuscan focus. The book describes what the French call 'cuisine bourgeoise', i.e. traditional upper middle class food. The author really loves this food and his passion comes through very strongly.

For a number of reasons, I consider the book aimed at people who really love to cook. This and the author's other books are well worth seeking out even in 2011.
- The author has looked at manuscripts from past centuries to ensure that the recipes are fairly historically accurate. So the recipes included are proper Italian recipes.
- The authenticity focus means fewer short cuts and the recipes are not necessarily geared to a "trendy modern" palate.
- The book has no pictures.
- The author has an accompanying volume on techniques Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking and several volumes on regional cuisines (e.g. Guiliano Bugialli's Food of Naples and Campania,Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands). If you want to build a library of Italian cookbooks, I think you should start with Bugialli's many books.

The author would probably consider the audience broader than this. And it is true that many of the recipes are not at all complicated. And all ingredients are readily available in most parts of the world today. So in terms of authenticity the book is lacking a bit in terms of the choice of recipes included. Still, I don't see a reason to seek out an out of print book if you just want a standard Italian cookbook.

If you want to get the book second hand here are some advice on editions: The book was originally published in 1977 and saw its second edition in 1990 and then a reprint in 2005. It seems that the 1990 and 2005 editions are largely similar since they have the same number of pages. So you can safely order the 1990 edition, but not earlier.
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on June 4, 2014
My daughter requested this book as a gift. She is an extraordinary cook and she raves about the "Italian" authenticity of the recipes. Her entire Thanksgiving dinner centered around a variation of 'chicken-en-croute' recipe from this collection. My review is based solely on this dinner which was amazing!
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on November 17, 2010
Although I had read and cooked my way through much of Marcella Hazan's CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKBOOK when I first encountered this (1980), Giuliano Bugialli's first cookbook, I found Giuliano's method of making pasta much easier than Marcella's. Maybe it's because of the little bit of olive oil. Maybe it's because he uses XL eggs.

Now, in 2010, I find myself cooking from this book once more. I've made a stew, some meat sauces, and I'm going to try the lasagna this weekend. It's a good book. One I really love to cook from (I read most of my cookbooks, but I don't necessarily cook from them). But with Bugialli, it feels essential to cook along with him as I read.

If you really like Italian food, I hope you will read this book and cook along with Giuliano, as I have done and am doing once again.
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on December 9, 2010
I've loved everything I've made from The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, something I can't say about most cookbooks.

I bought the first edition in 1980, and right away, I found making fresh egg pasta alla Bugialli so much easier than the way another cookbook author had you go about it. Bugialli uses extra-large eggs (something I've always bought for economy's sake) and a wee bit of olive oil. Presumably due to the presence of these two ingredients, I've never had a batch of pasta go wrong when I made it the Giuliano Bugialli way. Not the case with a number of other pasta recipes I've tried.

I'm a more confident cook now than I was thirty years ago, and I know how to make enough things I like that I don't actually need to use recipes anymore. But I'm always open to learning something new. Lately I've been making new pasta sauces, as well as braising stews and pot roasts. This book has a number of recipes that employ this "low and slow" cooking method. The very nice Spezzatino alla Fiorentina is beef stew with Chianti. There's a wonderful Florentine pot roast called Stracotto alla Fiorentina. I made kind of a baked ziti using the two sauces from cannelloni con carne: one, a meat sauce whose only tomato component is a tablespoon of paste; two, a besciamella with Parmigiano-Reggiano. That was shockingly good. If I have to bring a dish to a party, this is going to be the first thing I think of for a good, long time.

This is simple cooking, really, and it gives you a good excuse to pull out the Le Creuset. Very highly recommended.
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on December 5, 2013
Well written and explained recipes. A good and wide variety of recipes from antipasto to dessert. As authentic as can be. Know that the dishes focus on Tuscan/Florentine style so you may find that they recipes/preparation for a particular dish are different than you previously may have experienced. A worthwhile purchase.
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on October 19, 2009
Mr. Bugialli is a great food writer, no doubt. But unless his writing here is delivered tongue in cheek the book is also a fine example of the great conceit that Tuscans like the author himself lord over all who will listen. It is the idea that Italian food is the source of all fine cooking and eating. The author takes great pains to "prove" by consulting medieval cooking texts that the northern Italian version of most classic dishes preceded the French and all others, of course. It's all great fun, but the effect is that the recipes included in the book seek to show the one "right way" to make a dish, not necessarily the most reasonable way or the one that might give the best results overall. So I would say read this great book and try as many of the dishes as you can,as I have done to my great benefit, but do not be cowed by Mr. Bugialli's high tone and warnings concerning technique and ingredients. Cook on-- even if you do not have the "absolutely required" special hand-milled flour for his bread.
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