Pammer's review reminded me of a few things I wrote about The Silver Spoon back in 2005.
Essentially, I ended up feeling better about The Silver Spoon when I stopped thinking about it as an "authentic" Italian cookbook, and started thinking about it more as a snapshot of how middle class Italians were cooking in the period post-1950. Still authentic, just a different definition of authentic. If that makes sense.
Each recipe is verb-driven and concise - I mean, if you are going to get 2000 recipes in one volume I supposed you have to be concise. You see the name of each recipe in English, and the Italian name is included just off to the side as well. Outside of that you have no headnotes or information. After 15 minutes with the book, I thought I wanted this book, but I wanted it organized by region, with better headnotes, minus the 50's pineapple recipes. Maybe the reason this book is such a classic is BECAUSE of the encyclopedia-ness of it. It is informative on the level that it communicates many recipes (lots of which are Italian) in a simple manner to the average home cook. And in that regard it serves it's purpose.
Which leads me to a recommendation, now five years later...If you're after this sort of encyclopic Italian volume, be sure to look at La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. I've been reading through it at night. It's the culmination of the work of the Accademia Italiana...
First a health warning: this book weighs 2.7 kilos (heavy)
Second a financial warning: the publishers have extracted all ther pasta recipes into a seperate edition, so you need to buy two books
Thirdly the translation/editing needs to be taken with a bit of care - a sprig of parsley does not usually make a green sauce and gherkins turn up where you are expecting capers
That said it is exhaustive and more down to earth than the very beautiful book by Giogio Locatelli a couple of years ago which is more challenging...
And Italian food is a rewarding and worthwhile, often just using litle tricks to turn the humble, innocent thimngs lying around the kicthen into great meals. Just make sure to have some anchovies, tuna, lemons in the kitchen and you c an be pretty confident there will be a meal in here somewhere
I was so excited to get this for only $9 at a bookstore that was having a going out of business sale (not happy for the bookstore, though). I made fresh pasta for the first time ever, and used it in the lasagna and eggplant dish. It was very tasty, but drier/less saucy than the Italian food I'm used to here in the USA. :) The baked potato and pumpkin dish (subbing butternut squash for pumpkin) is in my oven right now and smells delicious. I can't wait to cook like an Italian!
Initially very excited about this book from all of the advance praise it received, I rushed out to get The Silver Spoon as soon as it became available. However, this book sits on my shelf way more than it gets used. The Silver Spoon recipes I have made, have been fine but this book has not become one of my "go to" books.
the silver spoon is one of those cookbooks that is as satisfying to page through as it is to cook from. it's a monster of a book that has blown open my ideas about what constitutes italian cooking. the recipes range from dead simple to project-worthy, making it one of the few books that i wouldn't want to do without.
In 2011 Phaidon published a new edition of this classic tome (it has a red cover). It seems that the editors slightly modernized the book. Let's hope they removed those 50's pineapple recipes :) This revised version also features recipes from moden Italian chefs such as Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. As with all Phaidon books, the production value is excellent. Glossy, mouthwatering photos showing off enviable cookware only available in Europe and as much user-friendliness as a 2,000-recipe book can have.