Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library) (Paperback)
Artusi's cookbook isn't your typical "how-to". It's a culinary ramble through Italian cooking of 1891 and is full of glorious rumination on regional cooking styles, anecdotes, near-slander, and salacious gossip more than recipes. Almost as an afterthought each bizarre introduction segues into recipes along the lines of:
Here is the celebrated Napolitanean dish, although is a horrible dish, in my opinon. It is known to the table of that Countess of some reknown who I find to be a terrible bore. But, some like it so here it is.
1. Prepare 3 pigeons in the usual way
2. Boil the pigeons in milk until tender and the aroma of a floretine brothel pervades the kitchen.
3. Dress with the famed herb that grows on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius which can be found by asking for Timmo the goat-herd at any Campania taverna. He will take you there.
4. Serve with wine.
To be fair, this is an example of the type of recipe one might not want to make, but there are also more palatable offerings here which one might be tempted to whip up. Along the way you'll get a wonderfully unfiltered view of Italian high society and culinary mores from the late 19th century.
This is my favorite food writing ever.— Derek
First published in 1891, Pellegrino Artusi's La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangier bene has come to be recognized as the most significant Italian cookbook of modern times. It was reprinted thirteen times and had sold more than 52,000 copies in the years before Artusi's death in 1910, with the number of recipes growing from 475 to 790. And while this figure has not changed, the book has consistently remained in print.
Although Artusi was himself of the upper classes and it was doubtful he had ever touched a kitchen utensil or lit a fire under a pot, he wrote the book not for professional chefs, as was the nineteenth-century custom, but for middle-class family cooks: housewives and their domestic helpers. His tone is that of a friendly advisor - humorous and nonchalant. He indulges in witty anecdotes about many of the recipes, describing his experiences and the historical relevance of particular dishes.
Artusi's masterpiece is not merely a popular cookbook; it is a landmark work in Italian culture. This English edition (first published by Marsilio Publishers in 1997) features a delightful introduction by Luigi Ballerini that traces the fascinating history of the book and explains its importance in the context of Italian history and politics. The illustrations are by the noted Italian artist Giuliano Della Casa.