Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good Books on Italian Food

My previous post may seem very negative. To offset that impression, here are images of some Italian food and cooking books that I really like -- besides the PBS show "Lidia's Italy."

I've especially enjoyed the books of Mary Taylor Simieti on Sicily. She writes wonderful details of life there from the mid-60s until recently.

The depicted book on Italian-Jewish cooking by Edda Servi Machlin includes a sketch of "a vanished way of life" in her town of Pitigliano. Her story of life there is especially enjoyable. I regret that I have never yet purchased a copy, but I always intend to get one.

My plan is to reread more of these, and maybe some new ones. I've just finished with Elizabeth David's Italian Food. I love the way she intersperses anecdotes and recipes. She is just as informative as Pellegrini -- whose book I find so annoying that I ranted about it this morning. She often compares early-1950s English food to that of Italy, and though it's not a favorable comparison, she is never nasty and snide the way he is about American food and people. Sure, she thinks the English would enjoy life more if they ate more adventurously, but she tries to show them what's possible. And indeed, she succeeded in changing the English diet, as much as anyone could. (Another book I hope to read is a recent biography of Davis by Artemis Cooper.)

Check here from time to time for more book reports!


Jen said...

I've been reading a ton of books lately on Italian food and cooking and on Italian-American food and cooking for a project I'm working on. I'll pass on some of my faves. I'm kinda pressed for time now. The author of the Splendid Table is coming to the Roadhouse, I believe... she's coming somewhere in the area soon.

Mae Travels said...

For any project on Italian-American food, I'd recommend "Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration" by Hasia R. Diner (2001) -- I did a blog post on it last November. This is an area of really wonderful writing. I hope you do a post on your project... Mae