114 of 121 people found the following review helpful
A Tie or a Close Second to Marcella Hazan,
This review is from: Lidia's Family Table: More Than 200 Fabulous Recipes to Enjoy Every Day-With Wonderful Ideas for Variations and Improvisations (Hardcover)
Lidia's book is a truly wonderful cookbook. And, because she cleverly doesn't give you any amounts for ingredients on her PBS cooking show, Lidia's Family Table, you practically need this book to make any of those recipes. The photos are also a tremendous help. How wonderful to actually see pasta being made or a lasgne taking shape step by step. This book is worth every cent. Another reviewer says it is a book of true northern or northeastern Italian cooking. I would have to disagree only slightly. There are some strong central and southern influences here, especially in recipes like the pasta and the risotta, where she adds olive oil rather than only butter. It's a minor thing, but for those of us who come from northern Italia we notice the flavor immediately in such a dish. Risotta with olive oile is a totally different experience than risotta with butter.
For a book that is still the "bible" of Italian cooking, I would refer you to Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Italian Cooking", a combination of two earlier books (The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Itallian Cooking)where she gives you details and insights that Lidia often leaves out. This comes from her Old-World style cooking, which she employed for decades in her intimate master classes taught in her own kitchen in Venice and New York City.
For example, Marcella never adds olive oil to her pasta; eggs and flour only. She would never place fried eggplant directly on paper towels; fried things must be drained on a rack. And when making bechamel sauce, or salsa balsamella, Marcella tells you to add the flour to the butter off heat to avoid lumping and to add the hot milk no more than 2 tablespoons at a time until it is smooth. Little things like that. Every time I prepare one of Lidia's wonderful recipes I first go to Marcella and read about it and I always learn something that I don't get from Lidia. Also "Marcella says..." is Hazan's newest book and it is filled with wonderful stories about cooking and pictures from the Master Classes she gave in New York and Venice right in her own home. Check it out by all means.
Lidia's book is a wonderful book and if you want a complete Italian cooking library you only need her two books (this one and Lidia's Italian American Table) and The two books of Marcella Hazan, which are captivating reading all by themselves. If you like to bake Italian breads then Carol Field's "The Italian Baker" will send you into ecstasy and make a master baker out of you in no time. Buon appetito!