Library Notes // Italian Regional Cooking

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

For most people the term Italian Food brings to mind pasta, pizza, meatballs and lots of red sauce. While that is, of course, a part of the tradition, region by region throughout Italy many other dishes combine to create a complex cuisine. There is something for everyone, even the tomato adverse and carb fearful. Here in the library, we have a wide selection of Italian cookbooks, including many that focus on specific regional recipes. If you’re ready to see what more Italian cooking has to offer, stop by and check these out!

True Tuscan: Flavors and Memories from the Countryside of Tuscany by Cesare Casella

Everyone at ICC knows Dean Cesare Casella by the signature pocketful of fresh rosemary on his chef coat, and the same herb adorns the cover of his guide to Tuscan cuisine. This book is full of rustic, traditional recipes such as Potato and Artichoke Tart, Tuscan Crepes with Wild Mushroom Sauce and Florentine Beefsteak. Each recipe includes a wine pairing which is incredibly useful for menu planning.

chef Cesare Casella

The Silver Spoon: Puglia

Everyone interested in Italian food knows that The Silver Spoon is the gold (er..silver?) standard. The influential cookbook contains over 2,000 recipes from all over the country, but even with such a comprehensive work the editors found more to add. Released by Phaidon, the beautiful series include not only recipes, but culture and history.

The Puglia book includes beautiful photography and a listing of all the regional food festivals – from early figs to fried dough ball and chocolate. The book features a wide range of traditional recipes separated by ingredient. Highlights include Lamb with Wild Fennel, Fried Hyacinth Bulbs and Pork with Pickled Peppers.

Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman

This is a cookbook from London restaurant Polpo which was inspired by Norman’s travels in Venice. His focus is on uncomplicated small plates with very few ingredients. Some recipes in the book do not even require cooking.

Polpo is a beautiful book with unique binding and stunning cover art. Seafood is featured heavily (of course) with such dishes as Garlic and Chili Prawns and Warm Octopus Salad. There is something for everyone though, also included are Braised Ox Cheeks and Zucchini Shoestring Fries. The back lists recommended restaurants for when you pay your own visit to Venice.

Braised Ox Cheeks cookbook

The Silver Spoon: Sicily

Another book in the Phaidon Silver Spoon series, Sicily has the quality content and beautiful layout that you can expect from this collection. The island features unique cuisine due to the many different cultural influences. For instance, we don’t typically associate couscous with Italian food, but the book contains Trapani-style Couscous, a mixed seafood dish.

Believe it or not, it’s not exclusively seafood; the cuisine of Silcily is also dictated by the microclimates that exist on the island. Traditionally, Sicillians didn’t travel around the island and the unique cuisine developed accordingly with seafood on the coast and dishes like Sweet-and-sour Nebrodi Rabbit served inland. Sicily is also famous for gelato, so pick up this book and try the traditional Sicilian breakfast – brioche stuffed with gelato and a shot of espresso.

These are just a few of the many diverse Italian cookbooks available in the ICC library. Stop by and take a look!

– Sara