The only cuisine that deserves to be called Italian cooking, writes Hazan by way of introduction to this celebrated 1992 title, is la cucina di casa: “there are no high or low roads in Italian cuisine. All roads lead to the home.” And it is how she then proceeds to unpick the fundamentals – to map out the way home, if you will – that sets the book apart. Starting with the triumvirate of Italian technique – battuto, soffritto and insaporire, which build flavour from the bottom up – she goes on to list the contents of the Italian pantry, before taking you through the various stages on a menu. Her chapter on soups, for example, opens with the idea that “A vegetable soup can tell you where you are in Italy, almost as precisely as a map.” Through eloquent prose and piercing insight, Hazan manages to unlock her country’s soul.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar) and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia (Balsamic vinegar) – very precious, expensive and rare sweet, dark, sweet and aromatic vinegar, made in small quantities according to elaborated and time consuming procedures (it takes at least 12 years to brew the youngest Aceto Balsamico) from local grapes must (look for the essential "Tradizionale" denomination on the label to avoid confusing it with the cheaper and completely different "Aceto Balsamico di Modena" vinegar, mass-produced from wine and other ingredients
Perhaps one of the simplest dishes in the book, but the one I revisit the most, is the whipped sheep's milk ricotta. You can make this in your sleep. Just whip up the ricotta with some good whole milk and it becomes ethereally fluffy. Accented with sea salt, fresh herbs, and olive oil, it's ready to be slathered all over crusty bread. I serve this at just about every party I have. Another favorite is this cauliflower with brown butter, pear, sage, and hazelnuts. It has to be one of the best ways to eat cauliflower. "—Erin Zimmer, National Managing Editor
Choosing favorites from your cookbook collection is a bit like choosing a favorite child, but here at Serious Eats, we will take just about any opportunity to talk about awesome sources for recipes. Here are 10 of our favorite Italian cookbooks—books that introduced us to some of our favorite dishes to cook at home. (Warning: acquiring these books is likely to increase your pasta cravings.)