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The best Italian cookbook

I would like to give an Italian cookbook as a gift. I'm wondering--what is your favorite? It has to be something that the user will actually cook from. I'm looking for your best, most used book both for everyday cooking as well as dinner parties and family get togethers. This is for my brother, who loves to cook and is not afraid of a little work in the kitchen either!

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  1. My choice would be Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Italian Cooking.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/325712 - master thread from when it was (the first) "Cookbook of the Month" on this board.

    You might also want to look at the threads about various Batali books, which we cooked from this fall:

    Mario Batali: Babbo, Molto Italiano & Simple Italian Cooking
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/561501

    Good luck!

    1. My very favorite Italian cookbooks are those written by Edward Giobbi: "Italian Family Cooking" and "Eat Right, Eat Well--The Italian Way". I've had both since publication and feel he truly understands Italian cooking. The recipes are easy to follow, plus since Mr. Giobbi is a reknown artist there are also his illustrations, and those of his children which make the books sweet to read as well.

      Additionally I do like the Mario Batali book, "Molto Italiano", and Lidia Bastianach's, "Lidia's Italian Table." But my Very Faves are the Giobbi books.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Thanks - I've never heard of him and will have to try to look at some of his books.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I agree with Gio. I have had a couple of Giobbi's books for ages. I think he lives on Long Island (if he's still alive) where he has a huge garden, chickens, outdoor oven, etc. He was always championed by Craig Claiborne of the NYT and Pierre Frenay (sp?).

      2. I second Marcella Hazan's "The Essentials of Italian Cooking". I also like some of the recipes in Giadas books. They are simple to make with ingredients that are easy to find.

        1. I don't think there is a "best" Italian cookbook, but Hazan, Bastianich, and Batali are all excellent choices. And if you don't mind giving classics out of print, look on line for Vincenzo Buonassisi's book on pasta. I myself keep going back to Hazan.

          1. You definitely can't go wrong with Hazan or Lidia Bastianich, my personal favorite.

            I don't have this one, but I would love to get it for Christmas - The Silver Spoon, published by Phaidon. Amazon's description says, "First published in 1950 and revised over time, Italy's bestselling culinary 'bible,' Il Cucchiaio d'argento, is now available in English."

            Also, I picked this one up cheap at my local borders on the bargain table - Culinaria Italy: Pasta, Pesto, Passion by Claudia Piras. I liked it so much I ended up buying all of the other Culinaria books they had.

            6 Replies
            1. re: theuninvitedguest

              I have the Silver Spoon, and while I like it, I prefer Hazan. The recipes in Silver Spoon are a bit lacking in details/instructions, and I found some of the quanties off. I do consult it and use it to compare recipes, but haven't cooked from it in ages.

              1. re: theuninvitedguest

                I bought the Silver Spoon but really, I wish I hadnt. It sits on my shelf like a big, undigestest lump. It may be a good basic tome but there is nothing inspirational about it.

                Marcella Hazan's books, on the other hand are both inpirations and very good cookbooks. they would be my top recommendation
                I also have owned the two Ed Giobbi books cited for many years - the Italian Family Cooking book has very good, simple recipes - the healthy cooking book got a little off-tracked by particular dietary recommendations re oils that are now out of date, but if you ignore that part, it is also good, although repetitious..
                Other books that I am fond of are (1) The Splendid Table, by Lynne Rosetta Kasper - about the high cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, which overlaps Hazan a bit, (2) Naples at Table, by Arthur Schwartz and (3) anything by Carole Field, but particular her Italian Baking Book.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  there are some gems in the silver spoon though. did you ever try the cold green beans salad - olive oil, mustard seeds, onions, some chili, vinegar - wonderful.

                  1. re: howler

                    Cool I will check it out. doesnt sound particularly italian, though.

                  2. re: jen kalb

                    I agree on the Silver Spoon. It's just sort of boring and uninspiring...

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      I agree with you on the Silver Spoon. I agree that it takes up too much space without offering anything interesting. It will be soon leaving so that I can fit in something better. It is a Betty Crocker kind of cookbook - without the pictures or extensive descriptions - just not very interesting, basic food.