437 of 469 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful work - a great accomplishment (with a few nitpicks)
_The Silver Spoon_ was originally published in Italy in 1950 by the Italian architectural and design magazine _Domus_. (Italian Title "Il Cucchiaio d'argento." The eighth edition came out in 1997.)The publishers at Phaidon, the British publishing house, have done a remarkable job of translating and designing _The Silver Spoon for American and British cooks. The cookbook...
Published on November 7, 2005 by KH1
322 of 335 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This 'Silver Spoon' is only half full
Like almost anyone with a passion for food living in Italy, I've got a copy of Il Cucchino d'Argento on my bookshelf -- it's the Bible of Italian cuisine. Sadly, this first English-language edition of the book won't be achieving the same status among Anglophile lovers of Italian table fare.
It's not the fault of the Italian publishers -- the book is still a...
Published on February 17, 2006 by Eric J. Lyman
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322 of 335 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This 'Silver Spoon' is only half full,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)Like almost anyone with a passion for food living in Italy, I've got a copy of Il Cucchino d'Argento on my bookshelf -- it's the Bible of Italian cuisine. Sadly, this first English-language edition of the book won't be achieving the same status among Anglophile lovers of Italian table fare.
It's not the fault of the Italian publishers -- the book is still a one-stop resource for everything from antipasti to ziti, with great illustrations, and all bound very handsomely -- but lazy translators and unambitious editors ruin this English-language edition, which is titled The Silver Spoon.
Just to give a few examples: metric measurements are awkwardly translated (one recipe suggests adding 11.35 ounces of cheese to a dish, another says the cook should add "1 to 4 portions" of salt -- without saying how large the portions should be), vocabulary is inexact (the words "pot," "pan," and "skillet" seem to be used interchangeably, as do "glass" and "cup"), no suggestions are made for meat and vegetable ingredients difficult to find away from Italy's shores, and basic information such as how many people a certain dish will serve and how long it will take to prepare (all of which is in the original) are just left out. There are typographical errors and misspellings galore, several of them comical. But my favorite mistakes include some that just left me scratching my head: one marinade must be "stirred frequently and infrequently for 5 to 12 hours" (the Italian says it must be "stirred regularly but not often for 5 to 6 hours") and there's a cake that upon completion must be "carefully cooled, or not" when in Italian it must be "cooled until warm to the touch."
All this is all a real a shame, because this book really should be a staple of anyone's cookbook library. If you can't figure out Italian well enough to get Il Cucchino d'Argento and you won't be frustrated by the awkward and puzzling texts in this beautiful volume, then go ahead and get it. For anyone else, I'd suggest waiting a year or two until the next edition is released (and is, hopefully, edited more carefully).
437 of 469 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful work - a great accomplishment (with a few nitpicks),
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)_The Silver Spoon_ was originally published in Italy in 1950 by the Italian architectural and design magazine _Domus_. (Italian Title "Il Cucchiaio d'argento." The eighth edition came out in 1997.)The publishers at Phaidon, the British publishing house, have done a remarkable job of translating and designing _The Silver Spoon for American and British cooks. The cookbook combines both traditional Italian recipes, and more contemporary Italian recipes influenced by other cuisines. If I had to make a comparison, I would say that it's much like a Italian version of "The Joy of Cooking," though not nearly as comprehensive.
I have three or four "classical" Italian cookbooks, and many of the recipes in those books are repeated here. I think that I'll hang on to them - but more for the extra information relating to Italian cuisine (which this book lacks) than for the recipes.
_The Silver Spoon_ is divided into 14 chapters (with a preface):
Eating is a Serious Matter (preface)
Cooking Terms - This chapter is a comprehensive glossary of all of the cooking terms used in the book. It covers terms for ingredients, cookware, and cooking techniques. I especially liked how the authors delineated exactly what they mean for specific terms related to technique; for example, "Brown in a Pan: To cook vegetables over low heat in butter or oil until they go a light golden color. This is particularly common with thinly slice donion or garlic cloves. Meat or vegetables may also be cooked in oil or butter ina skillet over high heat until a rich, even brown in color during the first or final stage of cooking." Equally detailed descriptions are given for everything from "Aceto Balsamico" to "Whisk/Beat". Experienced cooks may find these descriptions unneccesary, but as an amateur, I really appreciated them. The definitions of Italian words "Cacciatore", "Ribollita", etc. are the only indications in the entire book of the origins of any particular dish.
Tools and Equipment - This chapter gives information on the types of cookware necessary for the recipes included, some notes on kitchen organization, and two full-color pages of pictures of the different types of cookware neccessary.
Sauces, Marinades, and Flavored Butters - This chapter includes recipes for nearly every sauce that I've ever heard of - including all of the mother sauces, each with two to ten sauces based on them.
This chapter is divided into the following subchapters:
Flavored Butters ( five pages of recipes for these)
Antipasti, Appetizers, and Pizzas - Include Crostini, Pates, Quiches, Canapes, and many others.
First Courses - Soups, Pasta (fresh and dried), and Rice Dishes
Eggs and Frittata
Vegetables - How to prepare every vegetable under the sun (including some I have never heard of) and salads. The salads chapter seems a bit short, though meat and seafood salads are including in those sections.
FIsh, Crustaceans, and Shellfish - Includes information on serving sizes, cooking techniques, and how to get rid of ligering fish smells in the kitchen. Has seperate subchapters for 32 types of fish, 12 types of shellfish, snails and frogs (5 recipes for frogs alone!)
Meat and Variety Meats - Gives information on Cuts of meat (Both Italian and American) for Lamb, Pork, Beef, and Veal, along with several hundred recipes. Also includes bits on sausages and "Variety Meats", or Offal.
Poultry - The basics (Chicken, Turkey, Duck) with Squab, Capon, and Guinea Fowl also.
Cheese - a short chapter giving first Courses and appetizers using cheese
Desserts and Baking - Gives recipes for every type of pastry imaginable, frostings and sauces, creams, puddings, you name it. An exhaustive chapter. (But nothing on baking bread.)
Menus by Celebrated Chefs - Includes menus with recipes from 23 Italian, Italian-American, and Anglo-Italian Chefs. Includes Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali. (No Pictures in this section, but plenty more recipes. )
The book contains both a list of recipes by ingredient and a comprehensive index.
The recipes are not direct translations from the Italian - the translators have converted ingredients into imperial units and have written the instructions so that they are more descriptive.I found the recipes easy to read and to understand. For the most part, the writing is concise, but instructions are given in such a way that a person unfamiliar with a technique used can easily complete the recipe - the Italian version was apparently written for more advanced cooks.
The design is very well executed. This is a cookbook to be used, and used often. Aspects of the design that I really appreciated were the different colored edges on the paper for each chapter, so that you might turn immediately to the section that you wish to, and the lack of a dust jacket, which I find to be a nuisance on cookbooks that are to be used often.
This is not a cookbook for people who like anecdotes or pictures. The recipes have no introduction except for their Italian names. The pictures are well done - the food is simply displayed in the pan it was cooked in, or on a white plate on a plain background with out garnishes. The pictures are not labeled clearly (The labels are there, but they are tiny - you really have to look for them.) with the name of the dish. There are several line drawings, from the original, I believe, but they serve a decorative purpose only.
I have several very small nitpicks with the the book: the lack of certain regional dishes that I took to be well-known; The printing is light - I would have prefered a solid black, which is easier to read, than the charcoal grey that is used for all of the recipes; I really would have enjoyed information for at least some of the dishes on where they came from, and information on the differences in the regional cuisines of Italy would have been helpful. This information may have been superfluous in an Italian edition, but would be appropriate in an American one. There is also no section on baking breads, which is very strange for a book that claims to cover the whole of Italian cuisine. There is also no coverage of the history of Italian cuisine.
However, all of these problems aren't worth docking a whole star when one takes into consideration the wealth of recipes included. I have only made a few simple salads, but they've turned out deliciously. The design of the book makes it very easy to use in the kitchen - the binding lays open flat, and includes two ribbons to mark your page, and the text is plain and easy to read. This is going to be a really fun cookbook to use, and I'm sure that I'm going to use it for decades.
188 of 200 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Survey of What Italians Eat. Buy It.,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)`The Silver Spoon', the very first translation of an Italian cookbook in its eighth edition, published since 1950. This 2005 translation is based on the 1997 Italian edition published by Editoriale Domus. While there are credits for drawings, photography, and provisions of props, there is no credit for either author or editor in clear sight.
The blurbs on the book's cover tout the volume as `the bible of authentic Italian cooking'. I believe this can mislead some buyers in thinking that the book is devoted exclusively to Italian techniques or that the book has the very best and most definitive demonstrations of Italian cooking techniques. It would be much more accurate to compare this to either `The Joy of Cooking' or `James Beard's American Cookery' in that its emphasis is more on completeness rather than depth or excellence in pedagogical presentation. At 2000 recipes, this volume easily trumps some recent big Italian cookbooks, such as Michele Scicolone's `1000 Italian Recipes' or Mario Batali's `Molto Italiano'. If broad range is what you want, this is exactly the book for you.
What it does not have is any but the slimmest anecdotal information on regionality of dishes or exceptionally well explained techniques for such mysteries as fresh pasta making, bread baking, sausage making, or homemade mozzarella. You may also be surprised to find a large selection of terms and recipes from French, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Russian, and Japanese cuisines. This is all in keeping with a book devoted to be a reference for Italian home cooking. Italian bourgeois amateur cooks, it seems, are just as likely to use the French name for many dishes such as souffle or crepe as the Italian name. This belies the statement I read recently that it is only in America where one finds the fascination with world cuisines, as if all Italians spent all their time eating just the foods of their local province.
The introduction to this volume states that in the course of translating the book, care was taken to convert names of ingredients to designate provisions familiar to the American home. Unfortunately, they were not entirely successful in doing this, as I found multiple references to `Caesar mushrooms' with no explanation of what species of mushroom may be similar in the American megamart. What's doubly odd is that according to `Larousse Gastronomique', Caesar's mushroom is rare today and remarkably similar to a poisonous variety of mushroom. I also found the recipe directions still relatively sparse in detail and not entirely up to date to the latest in American culinary technique. One example is that for the recipe for veal saltimbocca, it calls for salting the meat after the saute. Modern practice recommends salting meat before sauteeing. Similarly, the recipes for fresh pasta or pizza dough are just a bit terse, with no good tips on the finer points of various equipment for kneading, rolling out, and cutting fresh pasta.
All this means is that this is not necessarily a good first book on Italian cooking. Marcella Hazan's books, especially `Marcella Cucina', are far better introductions to classic Italian technique, with Carol Field's `The Italian Baker' being a far superior introduction to Italian breads. But that doesn't say there is not a whole lot to like about this book, whose great strength lies in the great number of variations it gives on common dishes and the coverage it gives to dishes which many Italian cookbooks don't even bother to mention.
This book includes several great chapters on subjects that are almost entirely ignored by modern cookbook writers and Food Network faves. Anyone who has dabbled in Italian cuisine knows a little about timbales, mostly as a dish that is very complicated and done only for major celebrations. All treatments of the dish I have seen up to now reinforce this notion. It was featured as a celebratory dish in Stanley Tucci's movie `Big Night' and as a `tour de force' recipe in an episode of `Mario Eats Italy'. The best recipes I have seen for it are in excellent books on regional cooking and are all very long. This book gives us a whole chapter on timbales with twelve (12) recipes, none of which take more than one page. Another `lost' culinary subject is covered in the chapter on eggs. You expect and get lots of frittata recipes, but you also get ten recipes for shirred (baked) eggs plus recipes for eggs en cocotte, medium cooked eggs, and hard cooked eggs. And, while frittatas are a darling of the Food Network set, I have never seen them do a filled frittata or a frittata cake. You get them here!
One of the most useful items in the book may be the comparison of Italian versus American cuts of beef and the appropriate cooking techniques for each cut.
The chapter on baking and desserts is surprising in its size (about 120 pages) and by the heavy presence of both French and Austrian pastry techniques. Like every other chapter, I would not use this book as a primer on baking and pastry. I would first master my Sherry Yard (`The Secrets of Baking') or Nick Malgieri (`Perfect Pastry') or even the new `Martha Stewart Baking Handbook' before tackling these recipes, but if you really want to know what Nonna in Naples is really cooking, this is where you want to go!
The book is exceptionally well laid out, with color-coded pages by chapter and subchapter, a full index, plus a separate list of recipes. The glossary of culinary terms in the beginning is great, even if the translation is a bit quirky. This is not as definitive a coverage of ITALIAN cooking as the older `Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well' by Pellegrino Artusi, but it is a very, very good source of recipes cooked in Italy today.
Very highly recommended.
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At least this is truly Italian...,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)I am Italian and I am living in Italy.
As the Publisher said "this is a popular wedding gift" for us. This means that this book is often used as a reference book. The recipes are not new yet are honest. They may help you in many occasions.
Bookshops are full of books that pretend to be Italian but, in most of the cases, the only Italian thing is the last name of the author.
So buy The Silver Spoon if like Italian food and you are looking for a complete overview of the way we cook and eat.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cookbook of the Decade,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)I own over three hundred cookbooks so it's rare for me to get excited over a new one, but The Silver Spoon is different. This is by far the best cookbook released in the English language in the past ten years.
One has to wonder why it took so long for an English-language version to be sold in North America. This cookbook has almost everything a serious home cook could want. Most recipes are simple to prepare and turn out well, and all call for real ingredients, not canned or pre-processed glop. It's surprising how few ingredients go into most recipes and how incredibly flavourful they turn out. I've tried over 30 recipes from the book, and every one turned out perfectly and was delicious.
One unusual feature is the large section on vegetables. Too many cookbooks have huge sections dedicated to meat but a tiny vegetable section containing only a few recipes for carrots, potatoes, and corn. The Silver Spoon contains recipes for dozens of vegetables, including finnochio, mushrooms, artichokes, cabbage (all kinds), parsnips, turnips, chard, and cardoons, in addition to recipes for the more common types. There's also an extensive section on seafood and fish and a large number of "first course" recipes, including appetizers, pizzas, soups, and salads.
Other reviewers have mentioned that many recipes call for unusual amounts of certain ingredients. This is likely because the translators didn't want to test the recipes themselves and were leery of changing the recipes without testing. I personally would have preferred if both metric and imperial measures had been given. In Canada most of our food is sold in metric sizes, so sometimes I feel like I'm translating backwards (11 oz. is 300 grams, 7 oz. is 200 grams, etc.).
There are a few translation clunkers that haven't been recently mentioned: the "Caesar mushrooms" called for in some recipes are likely chanterelles, and the "farro" which makes up some grain dishes is much better known in North America as spelt. I suspect that many of these "errors" in translation are really differences between UK usage and North American usage.
The section on baking is much smaller than in most North American cookbooks. I don't know if Italian families don't eat sweets or if they buy them from a bakery, but the lack of cookie, cake, and tart recipes did seem strange to me. There is also no recipe for Italian bread, quite possibly because most Europeans live near a good bakery and don't have to choose between making bread at home or eating the styrofoamish bread sold at most North American supermarkets.
These are minor quibbles, however. The Silver Spoon contains thousands of uncomplicated recipes for delicious food. It would be a steal at twice the price.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)First off, this book is huge. This great cookbook from Phaidon Press is filled with great color photos and is smartly organized. They had great source material to work with, but it is well edited. Rather than use step-by-step processes, each recipe is a brief paragraph on how to prepare it. Some of the ingrediants seem as if they might be hard to come by, but the overwhelming majority of the 2,000+ recipes use readily available ingrediants. Definitely worthwhile for both the rising beginner and the experienced cook, foodies will love it, and all of my friends "ooo" and "aah" over it.
The one "downfall" is it's sheer size. Phaidon has solved this by making a spine that stays open to your desired page. Also appreciated are the two ribbon bookmarkers to switch between recipes handily. Overall, a great addition to the kitchen.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic "basics" from every region of Italy,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)As a professional translator I do agree with the need to edit some of the blatant mistakes in this edition. That being said, I do believe this is one if not "the" best Italian cookbook I have come across...yes Marcella, Mario and others are incredible sources of knowledge and technique, but if you want to taste the "real thing" and not someone else's "spin" on it, this is the book to have and yes, this is indeed the book my sister received as a wedding gift. I grew up in Italy. Mom's family is from Genoa, Dad's from Naples. These "regions" are completely different from each other in terms of food. If we were to think in terms of our own USA BBQ would you like to make the red sauce or vinegar version? This book gives you both. It is not "modern" Italian, it is "ancestral". This is what my great great grandpa ate. Pure, simple, fresh ingredients for extraordinarily brilliant flavor. Although fresh eel and octopus or stracchino cheese may not be readily available at your local market, with this book you will still come as close as you can possibly get to the traditional, unadulterated flavor of Italian regional foods. I am amazed at the recipes it contains. Even my beloved Mesciua makes an appearance on page 269 (although misspelled). This book spans both world renown and obscure regional dishes folks. Gnocchi? How about 18 different versions of them? Why? Because they differ depending on the region. If you want to learn how to cook Italian step by step, this is not the book to do it with as you will need to be at least familiar with the difference between chopping and cubing. And finally, to those who complain there is no bread baking section I say get real:there's 2000 recipes here...enough to keep anyone busy and cooking for quite some time. There is no way anyone could possibly "digest" or lift a book that contains all aspects of Italian cuisine. This book has the true and proper "originals", in plain if not totally "correct" English, and at an affordable price...finally!
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars about the Italian edition & clarifying some points,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)I own the original 'cucchiaio d'argento' (in Italian, 1997 edition) and I want to correct what was written by a previous reviewer: IT IS NOT TRUE that the this book did not have any re-edition since 1950: the book was regularly revised in the 50s and once about every ten years later on (last two editions are dated 1986 and 1997). It is true that it is present in almost every Italian household: it's a classic wedding present,it's really useful as a 'starter' book since one can find there almost every basic Italian recipe (and a lot of more unusual ones).
About the missing of regional cooking: I think this book is in the tradition of those cooking books that try to represent or create an Italian 'national' way of cooking (like Artusi's book did in the 19th century), taking some from each regional tradition.
About the recipe compact format (and missing notes): I'm afraid it's rather normal in Italian recipe books, especially when so big.
About the presence of not strictly Italian recipes: those included are common in today Italian cooking (for instance, crepes have become quite popular). You have to remember that this is originally not a book about Italian cooking but a cooking book for Italians.
About the pictures: they are willingly un-glamorus as it's explained in the introduction of the Italian edition.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marcella is better,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)I cook for my family everyday and am pretty good in the kitchen. I bought this book because it seemed like such a great idea, the real recipes Italians use, wow. It is super pretty and I love the layout, but none of the recipes I have made so far have been anything special. The apple cake, and many others in that chapter, call to add the softened butter to the eggs once they are already whipped and lemon colored. The butter then deflates everything and turns all grainy. Why? Is it the ingredients? Is there some trick? They don't tell you. Same with the roast meats, the recipes turn out a typical tough potroast. Perhaps the Italian ingredients are so much better naturally that these recipes turn out succulent delights there, but here they are pretty run of the mill. Maybe the fancier, more cocktail-y recipes will work but I haven't gotten to those yet and have started to doubt the book so don't know if I ever will. If you want good Italian food that actually works every time, buy Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous,
This review is from: The Silver Spoon (Hardcover)This is the best everyday Italian cookbook I have seen. I use it almost every day. The ingredients for most of the recipes are at hand in every kitchen. You don't need to do the planning,read a recipe, shop for all the items and so on. You can impulse buy meat ,fish or vegetables and then look up a recipe that interests you and cook it.
There are some purists in the reviews below that say there are better books, or these recipes are many times French, or too simple ,or don't cover the regions. I went to cooking school in Florence and used several cookbooks including the great regional ones etc.and there are more complicated recipes than these, but this is by far the simplest to use and the end product is always delicious.
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The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press (Hardcover - October 1, 2005)
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