The Silver Spoon Cookbook story has lasted for 60 years and it continues with this latest and largest edition. It still has a battery of over 2000 authentic Italian recipes but now they have been joined by 400 new photographs. The thing that doesn’t change is the quality of dishes.
It has great visual impact. There is no doubt about that. I have seen Italian cars that are smaller than this book. It’s a multi-tasking volume, taking the place of steps to reach high kitchen shelves, could block a reasonable-sized doorway, and can be used to balance against any food item of around 3kg.
There are many books around that are noteworthy for their ample proportions alone. Any publisher could offer enormous volumes of The Collected Works of… But this is rather different. The Silver Spoon could be retitled The Collected Works of Many Generations of Italian Cooks. The spine is big enough to take it and the title would be appropriate.
First published in 1950 in Italian, Il Cucchiaio d’argento, this is the most popular Italian cookbook. Strangely the name is derived from the English phrase to denote wealth and plenty… to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. In this case it is used to note the rich culinary heritage described between the covers.
Il Cucchiaio d’argento has been in print for over 60 years. It has been updated, improved and expanded upon and now we have the new English language edition, which will introduce still more lovers of Italian food to this veritable bible of one of Europe’s best-loved cuisines.
It’s almost useless to get into my usual routine of describing particular recipes to my dear reader. If you can think of an Italian dish then it’s here. More remarkable are the dishes that you might not know by name but which you might have eaten in homes of Italian friends. Yes, there is a whole section devoted to menus by Italian celebrity chefs, but the book is prized by Italians for its traditional Italian food. There are also a few contemporary dishes included to reflect availability of new products and the impact of travel. Beef Wellington, Goulash, Kugelhopf and even Scones are all listed, which suggests that this is a cookbook of not only Italian food but food for Italians.
If you are looking for your favourite pasta sauce it’s here. Pizza in all its forms is offered. Desserts that have long graced the trolleys in Italian restaurants throughout the world are included. But you will be missing so much of what makes Italian food so celebrated if you stick to the standards. It’s the rustic and slow-cooked meats (Brasato alla Cipolle – Braised Beef with Onions), flavourful and stylish seafood dishes (Gamberi in Salsa Dolceforte – Prawns in Strong Sweet Sauce) and delicious desserts like Torta di Ricotta E Uvetta (Ricotta and Sultana tart) which are the unsung heroes.
The Silver Spoon is a masterwork and I can understand why those in the know wax so lyrical about it. The price is more of a shock than the size of the volume. It’s amazing at only £29.95 for 1400 pages and that does not include the lengthy index. This book is still given as a wedding present by Italians to Italians. It can have no finer recommendation than that.
The Silver Spoon
Published by: Phaidon
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018