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Mar 30, 2007 08:57 AM

New edition of Plotkin

Hey, has anyone read the new (2006) edition of Fred Plotkin's classic Italy for the Gourmet Traveller? He had mentioned (in Gourmet magazine, I think) that he had updated it, and I tried to find it on various bookstore sites before realizing it's available in the UK but apparently not the US yet. So I got it from, and started to read it last night. The introductory chapters don't seem to have been revised much: there were just two changes I could detect, i.e. two references to the Euro, plus a bit on the new non-smoking laws. But throughout much of the intro he keeps quoting prices (tip amounts, etc.) in lire. This made me nervous about how scrupulously he updated the book. The first time I used the earlier edition on a vacation to Italy in the late 90's I already found that some of the places he had cited no longer existed.

Don't get me wrong--I admire the hell out of Plotkin and trust his recommendations. I just don't want to go to a town expressly to visit a certain restaurant and find out it's closed. Sure, I know it's best to call ahead, but I don't really want to be making all these calls to Italy from home (my Italian is not all that great on the phone--I rely on gestures and expressions to fill in the gaps). If anyone who has used the new edition in Italy this year or last could let me know how it went, I'd be grateful.

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  1. I don't know anything about the book, but this post caught my eye because of the name. Interesting to know that there are other chowhounds with such a great family name ;)

    1. Well I bought the new edition a couple weeks ago, ahead of my trip to Naples/Amalfi. I was very disappointed with the limited amount of updating. I was very aware of this since I had reread the relevant chapter of the old book several times in the last few weeks. Didn't have time to go through the entire book - but from a quick read of of Venice, Rome and a detailed review of the Campania section, Id say the main thrust was to delete closed restaurants and replace them with new recommendations without doing significant rewriting - . The book as a whole is essentially the same and unrevised. To read it you'd think Mr. Plotkin had just visited some of the places yesterday (for example the detailed and loving description of a meal at, I think, La Caravella in Amalfi is totally unchanged as if it had been enjoyed yesterday). This made we wonder whether he'd revisited the area at all since 1996. In sum, if you dont have the book its well worth getting but if you have the old one, it may not be worth the investment unless you are compulsive.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        ps I wouldnt carry this great big book to Italy in any case - I copied, double sided, the pages from my guidebooks and reduced the weight I was carrying substantially this time and it was a great relief.

        1. re: jen kalb

          My general rule is not to carry any whole books--I always copy just the pages I will need and toss them as I go, to make room in my suitcase for more truffle paste, chocolate, etc.

          I can't believe Plotkin would pull such a lousy trick! Since I already owned the earlier edition, this one might have been largely a waste of $$, according to you and badwaiter. Argh.

          1. re: alixschwartz

            I havent evaluated the whole book only the parts I have recently travelled in, Venice, Rome and Campania. I have no idea how much changing and updating went on in the other sections. Hopefully more.

            Im often glad I can return books to Amazon when they turn out this way. No, Im keeping the Plotkin book.

        2. re: jen kalb

          I'll second Jen Kalb on this. My new Plotkin just arrived today. The new version is very disappointing. The good news is that there are a handful of new updates. The bad news is that he didn't catch all the closed/moved restaurants of which there are quite a few simply limiting myself to Alba, Milan and Naples. My personal jury is still out on whether it's worth the purchase, especially if you are buying it from overseas. As of now, it's not a hopeful start.