Author: Edward Giobbi

Publisher: Alfred Knopf, New York, 1991

Why write a review of a 20 year old cookbook?  Because there are classics.  Just as you should read Moby Dick, you should own at least a couple of classic or basic cookbooks.  Giobbi does a wonderful job of translating simple, fresh Italian food for the average kitchen.

He does have a few esoteric moments, like the…canning your own tuna section, but for every challenging recipe there are many basic skills like how to poach eggs on vegetables.  His voice would almost convince me to hike over to a dock and buy a pressure cooker to can my own fish, so I’d bet that you’ll find his recipes and vignettes compelling enough to start chopping.  Or at least you’ll go boil some water for “Butterfly Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Wild Mushrooms” or “Pasta Shells with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Peas.”

The hand drawn art is pleasant, but not distracting.  The directions and ingredients lists are always clear.  The book generally supports a cook who is interested in pursuing the Mediterranean diet but who needs more ideas.  Generous use of olive oil, seafood, and plenty of vegetable dishes help the cook who wants healthier meals.  You can always just read the section about how to make wine and preserve olives while imagining that you live in Italy, on the top of a hill with grapes and olives growing down the sides…