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Suggestions for Unique Italian Cookbooks??

Can anyone suggest any Italian cookbooks that don't have the all the classic Italian recipes. I have a large collection of Italian cookbooks like the silver spoon and a couple Marcella Hazan cookbooks. I'm not looking for a cookbook with all the same recipes, I'm looking for recipes that are unique and I would prefer southern in style.

Any suggestions?


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  1. My Italian boyfriend just happened to mention The Talism Cookbook to me this past weekend as the consummate Italian cookbook, and traditionally given to brides as part of their wedding present. I asked him if he knew if there was an English version and he didn't think so, but.... I think there is one on Amazon. New at $218 (!!!), but used at $20.74


    4 Replies
    1. re: Tehama

      no offense, but that looks like pretty standard stuff with chicken cacciatore and beef pizziaole.



      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I understand what you are saying about The Talism cookbook, but my BF was explaining that it is a very thoughtfully/comprehensively written recipe book, full of techniques going back far in time. I don't think it is meant to be full of avant guard cooking, but one that is like a "bible" of authentic recipes and how to prepare them correctly. He comes from a long line of cooks, so I'm pretty sure he knows what's up. :-) {I just hope my English-version search of the Talism is the same one he was referencing.}

        1. re: Tehama

          from what i've seen and read of it, it was "americanized" in the '50s.


          i am italian-american too, and we never used recipes for dishes like that, lol, ya know?

          the my calabria i have used and do like. i also have an assortment of paula wolfert books that i adore. while not strictly "italian", realize that the bottom of the boot and sicily were invaded and occupied many times, longest by moors, so there is a fluidity to that kind of mediterranean rim cooking that supersedes map lines..

      2. re: Tehama

        I've looked through The Talisman but it seemed to have pretty standard recipes. With that said, I'm sure the recipes are good.

        hotoynoodle, have you used the two cookbooks you suggested?


      3. Here's a beautiful little book all about soups made 'From the Kitchen of The American Academy In Rome' sponsored by the Rome Sustainable Food Project. I've made a few of the soups from the book. Lovely vibe from the book too.

        1 Reply
        1. I've just started reading Nancy Verde Barr's WE CALLED IT MACARONI: AN AMERICAN HERITAGE OF SOUTHERN ITALIAN COOKING, reminiscences and recipes from her Southern Italian family, friends, and neighbors in the Italian section of Providence, RI. I haven't cooked anything from it yet, though I plan to.

          It's one of the most interesting cookbooks I've read in a long, long time (though I am not Italian, my cooking roots go back to Southern Italy via my grandmother's next-door neighbor).


          1 Reply
          1. re: Jay F

            I'll take a look at that.

          2. Contact the Central Grocery in NOLA and order a copy of Marie Lupo Tusa's (daughter of the founder) cookbook, Marie's Melting Pot. May be just what you are looking for.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mudcat

              thanks, this looks intriguing!

            2. I am assuming that if you have Marcella and the Silver Spoon book, your recipes have more of a Tuscan/northern Italian slant to them. My suggestion would be to explore some books that have more of a regional slant to them. Among the best in my collection are The Foods of Southern Italy, Naples at Table, Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, The Heart of Sicily or Sicilian Home Cooking, and My Calabria, to name a few. Fore a more "interpretive" slant on Italian cooking, there are books like Stir and SPQR. Also, Mario Batali, while hewing closely to the cannon, does have his own interpretive mix in his many books. As far as We Called it Macaroni that JayF mentions, that is a wonderful book for Italian-American cooking, which is an interpretation of the povera cucina of Southern Italy, as influenced by the abbondanza that the newly affluent immigrants found in America.

              3 Replies
              1. re: roxlet

                May I ask your favorites from Sweet myrtle and bitter honey are?

                1. re: roxlet

                  My Calabria keeps coming up in my searches so I'll have to take a closer look at it. I'll also look at the others you suggested.
                  Thanks for the insight on We Called it Macaroni. I would rather not have an Italian American cookbook but if the recipes are good....oh well.
                  I didn't realize the Silver Spoon had more of Northern Italian focus. My understanding was that it covered all the regions of Italy.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    I like Mario, and have one of his books.

                    Do you know that when he went to Italy, he took only 3 pieces of luggage? He got off of the train with a bag with clothes, a guitar in a case, and GOLF CLUBS. The area in which the restaurant was located in a very mountainous part of Italy. I don't think he had any place to play a round of 18 holes.

                  2. My Calabria, much cited already, is very good. Coming in March is "Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds: Recipes and Lore from Rome and Lazio" by Oretta Zanini De Vita, author of Encyclopedia of Pasta (disclosure: translated by me). Arthur Schwartz has books on Campanian ("Naples at Table") and southern Italian cooking.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mbfant

                      Thanks mbfant! I will look at your recommendations. That second book seems great. The word peasant interests me as I am looking for peasant dishes, not recipes that are refined.

                      1. re: mbfant

                        Yes, Naples at Table was cited by me upthread, as well as My Calabria. Popes, Pesants and Shepherds sounds quite interesting.

                        1. re: mbfant

                          I second the motion on My Calabria by Rosetta Constantino. My wife's maternal grandparents emigrated to the US from Calabria.

                          I like the history that is included with many of the recipes. Calabria has 5 provinces, and some of the recipes are specific to a particular town in a given province.

                        2. I really love Ursula Ferrigno's Trattoria. I believe it is out of print but readily available used. It is more Italian than Italian-American, and the best part is, every recipe I have tried has turned out perfectly. I think it is a really well tested cookbook. I especially love the ricotta gnocchi, and a vegetable tart that uses 2 cups of parmesan with just one egg as the base to hold the veggies together. It is to die for!

                          Aida Boni's Italian Regional Cooking is good, but not for complete beginners because sometimes the directions are a little unclear. For vegetables, I recommend Viana La Place's "Verdura."

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Hadil100

                            Hadil100, can you tell me which Trattoria book you are referring to. It appears that Ursula Ferrigno has a couple Trattoria cookbooks.



                            1. re: JRenPre

                              The Amazon link is the one that I am referring to. :)