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La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy [Hardcover]

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 20 2009
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

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Product Description

Review

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."
~Saveur

"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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Marcella Hazan, but.... Dec 12 2010
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book because I have been a faithful user of the Marcella Hazan cookbooks and because I have spent some time in Tuscany. I wanted something different. This is a great book. Not sure you would ever want to cook your way through it. Not much of a market for pig jowls in my local supermarket but it is remarkable compendium of the history of Italian cooking. I have cooked from it - the Sicilian fig cookies for example - and the recipes work. I have also made the pasta and it works. Still, it reminds me of the very early Joy of Cooking with instructions on how to cook squirrel, opossum and raccoon. Not the usual staples. This is a must however, for anyone with an interest in Italian traditional and it reminds us that cooking is mostly making the best of what you've got!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
As per my sister-in-law's wish list...I got her this book as a Christmas gift.
Both she and I got excited over some rare recipes our Grandmothers made and which actually were in this book.
Many of the recipes we saw seemed to have the right ingredients and directives.
We unfortunately still have not experimented with the recipes yet.
My 4 star rating is because I personally would not buy this book for my bookshelf specifically because there's a major lack of visuals. They should have made more effort to do so. It's always nice to see accompanying photos of what we think we'll want to cook or bake ;o)

If you don't mind the lack of photos...then, this selection, is so far one of the better contenders of the authentic Italian cuisine and baking recipe books.

Buon appetito and flavourful wishes...[...]
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enormous scrapbook of family recipes Jan. 10 2010
By Brian Connors - Published on Amazon.com
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. Along comes the Academmia Italiana della Cucina, which pulled out all the stops and let the chips fall where they may -- the resulting book is, by its own admission, the size of a phone book, but is a remarkable collection of family and local recipes, some so obscure that their names only exist in dialect. Although most of the classics are here, this is surprisingly not a straightforward Italian recipe reference; rather, it's a scrapbook that compliments a more regimented book like the ones mentioned above. And it is very scrapbooky -- quite a few recipes are given in multiple variations, usually demonstrating regional differences in well-known dishes.

The organization is strange, but makes sense... after a while. The two indexes are organized by region and ingredient, but only give English language names; if you happen to know the dish by the Italian name, however, the book is organized quite simply, by arranging the dishes in alphabetical order by their names in either standard Italian or (in a great many cases) dialect. It takes a while to get used to but manages to be consistently workable without a great deal of pain. The book is devoid of pictures, all the better to pack in more unusual and tasty recipes, and the layout is contemporary without being quirky or annoying (very much, in fact, like a Workman book without all the clutter).

This is not a remotely inexpensive book, and you may balk at buying it in combination with one of the books I mentioned above, but it's great either by itself or in combination with those others. If it's just the basics you're after, this will probably be overkill and might leave you a little high and dry on the common things, but if you're all about the obscure and unusual, this is an excellent choice.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit of everything Dec 22 2009
By J.R. - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars slight shortcomings, but worth every penny July 3 2010
By reviews again - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An authoritative compilation. April 2 2013
By Gardiner R. Mccauley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great one-off Italian Cookbook March 19 2012
By A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this cookbook for both my mother and myself because it has 2 recipes in it that are "passed-down" in my family and most people have never, ever heard of.

I've made a few things in it but mostly have been using it as inspiration for putting together different flavors. So far everything has gotten rave reviews from my family.

I love:
That the index is by ingredient as well as by region

I don't love:
That there is not index by keyword. Eg, if you wanted to look up, say, "cacciatore", you'd have to look up "chicken" or something first and then look through that section to find a recipe for a cacciatore (this is just a random example).
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