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Italy's top cookbook now in English

Silver Spoon is the English version of the best-selling cookbook, Il Cucchiaio d'Argento.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2005 13:57 IST

Italy's best-selling cookbook for five decades, used by Tuscan grandmothers and Michelin-star chefs alike, is being published in English for the first time, with recipes that range from penne arrabbiata to Milanese tripe.

At 1,264 pages, the Silver Spoon thuds onto the kitchen counter. More than 2 million copies have been sold in its home country since 1950, where it is traditionally given as a wedding day gift to brides.

Already in its eighth edition in Italy, where it is entitled Il Cucchiaio d'Argento, the English version is the first cookbook from design book publisher Phaidon.

It contains more than 2,000 recipes, including original menus from celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Giorgio Locatelli.

"Throughout the years, I have seen chefs in many different kitchens refer to all types of cookery books, but Il Cucchiaio d'Argento is the only book that made it into my mum's kitchen," said Locatelli, an Italian chef whose London restaurants Zafferano and Locanda Locatelli have earned Michelin stars.

"Most Italians consider this book their Bible on home cookery," he said.

It could help deliver a boost to flagging cookbook sales in the United States, where it is slated to hit stores on Monday. It is due go on sale in Britain and Australia on the same day.

US sales of wine and cookery books have declined 13 per cent over the past five years to about $333 million, according to data from market research group Ipsos, and account for about 3 per cent of all consumer books sold.

"It's a good, steady category for us that really excels during the holiday," said Carol Hellmers, who is respsonsible for choosing which cookbooks are on the shelves at the Tattered Cover store in Denver, Colorado.

"Any wonderful cookbook that comes out will do well, and ones with pictures always do better because they do tend to be considered coffee-table books," she told Reuters by telephone.

Silver Spoon could wind up more a decorative living room showpiece than a stovetop sidekick next to such old reliables as The Joy of Cooking or the Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery, according to early reviews.

Though it has some simple and recognisable fare, the book is also stuffed with oddities.

"Classicism comes at a price, and despite being a bestseller in Italy for over 50 years, Silver Spoon is inevitably a bit dated," Britain's Daily Telegraph wrote.

"Veal roulade in aspic or brains in anchovy sauce are unlikely to find favour with young hosts in Rome or London, and most of the pasta dishes, though no doubt delicious, are a little unadventurous," the newspaper added.

Still, it could be just the thing for cookbook aficionados, who are always on the hunt for the hottest new title on the market.

"These are people looking for things that are different," said Nach Waxman, owner of the New York speciality store Kitchen Arts & Letters.

"We've sold a $350 book from Spain with the kinds of recipes that no one can make in their kitchen."

First Published: Nov 04, 2005 12:59 IST