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2023 Italian Cookbook Guide

By on Tuesday, December 5th, 2023 at 8:46 pm | 1,718 views

2023 Italian cookbook gift guide including Katie Parla's Food of the Italian Islands, Leah Koenig's Portico, The Food of Sicily, SLow Food Fast Cars, Cucina Povera and more

This past year saw plenty of great Italian-inspired cookbook. There were a few trends of course like the popularity of “cucina povera,” a style of cooking associated with Italian peasants, like those who came to the United States during the great migration. Seafood and coastal regions were also popular this year, from the Amalfi Coast to Sicily to Italy’s many smaller islands.

What I love about some of these books is the ability for them to transport the reader to the places they are focusing in on — this is particularly true of the first book on the list by Katie Parla. With the cookbooks this year focused on regional foods, the beauty of Italy is on display alongside the food.

Here’s a run down of the books that were published this year and what to expect. We’re not calling it a gift guide, but no doubt the food lover in your life would enjoy some of these titles.

Food of the Italian Islands, Katie Parla, $35, March 19, 2023

Food, culture, and travel writer Katie Parla takes us on an epic journey through the unique foods of Italy’s Italian islands, large (Sicily, Sardinia) and small (Capri, Ponza). The book is filled with lush photographs of the food and locations, and reported research on the history behind the dishes. This is a fun book with a lot of unique regional flavors.

I had a chance to talk with Parla about the book earlier this year for America Domani in a two-part interview (Part 1, Paart 2). The narratives Parla tells shows the amount of time she spent researching these recipes. Reading through it is the same vibes as an Italian summer holiday, like White Lotus, but fewer murders.

Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome's Jewish Kitchen, Leah Koenig, $37.50, August 29, 2023

Today there are only about 27,000 Jewish Italians, but there is a long history dating back to the Roman empire, and Jewish and Italian cuisine have long been intertwined. Leah Koenig, who is the author of numerous other Jewish cookbook titles, dives into Roman-Jewish cuisine with dishes. Some of the highlights here involve artichokes and frittatas.

There’s a lot of frying, which means there’s a good bit of overlaps in Jewish cuisine to Roman street foods. Conde Nast Traveler has an interview with Koenig where she discusses her interest in Roman-Jewish cuisine where she explains it very much influenced her desire to be a Jewish food writer.

Cucina Povera: The Italian Way of Transforming Humble Ingredients Into Unforgettable Meals, Giulia Scarpaleggia, $35, April 4, 2023

Scarpaleggia grew up in Tuscany but draws on recipes from across Italy. The book is also full of rich photographs. The idea of the cucina povera, the humble peasant, kitchen, is economical way of cooking using up ingredients and finding uses for ingredients to avoid waste. There’s even section dedicated to using leftovers.

But Scarpaleggia approaches cucina povera as more than an efficient way of cooking, and more as philosophy. The California Review of Books has an in-depth review by Linda Lappin that explores these ideas.

IAM Books, in Boston, hosted Scarpaleggia for an interview earlier this year.

The Food of Sicily: Recipes from a Sun-Drenched Culinary Crossroads, Fabrizia Lanza and Guy Ambrosino, $40, September 12, 2023

Sicily has been growing in popularity lately. Not only was it the starring role in this year’s season of White Lotus, but Neos Airline has plans for a nonstop route from New York to Palermo. What better way to prepare for your summer fling than cooking through these 75 recipes.

Lanza owns and is the executive director Anna Tasca Lanza, a cooking school she established in Sicily back in 1987. This gives her practical insight into writing and cooking Sicilian cuisine — and ensuring other people can learn her techniques.

She previously co-authored Coming Home To Sicily, and Olive: a Global History. We attended an an event at Archestratus, a cookbook-focused store, when Lanza was promoting her previous book and found her thoughtful and entertaining.

Lidia's From Our Family Table to Yours: More Than 100 Recipes Made with Love for All Occasions, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, September 26, 2023, $35

Restaurateur and celebrity chef Lidia Baastianich is back with a new cookbook, this one written with her daughter, and a collection of dishes she serves at family parties. The book contains everything from a full meal, from the antipasto through dessert. There are some beautiful photos, although not for every dish.

The recipes include modern twists, like the inclusion of avocado. There are some interesting old-school Italian recipes too, like ricotta soup. What the book does do though is capture the type of food people cook at home, not in restaurants, and shows how even Italian cooks will adapt and assimilate other foods into their domestic cooking. PBS Arizona has an interview with Lidia.

Cucina di Amalfi: Sun-drenched recipes from Southern Italy's most magical coastline, Ursula Ferrigno, March 14, 2023, $30

Food writer Ursula Ferrigno who previously wrote Cucina Siciliana brings a new collection of 75 recipes inspired by the Amalfi coast. There’s a full selection of antipasti, salads, soups and main dishes, as well as bread and pizza. British Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has a delectable looking preview of the fried pizzas.

Slow Food, Fast Cars: Casa Maria Luigia, Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore, December 6, 2023, $59.95

This book is more than a cookbook, and more than an essay collection. Publishers like to throw around words like “genre-bending,” but in this case the book might be.

Buttura and Gilmore operate an Italian guest house, the Casa Maria Luigia, and have long worked side-by-side on projects like Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Francescana. The 85 recipes in the book are drawn from the various foods they serve at the guest house, ranging from jams to fish, brads to frittatas.

Vogue has an interview with the pair about the new book.

Gennaro's Cucina: Hearty Money-Saving Meals from an Italian Kitchen,  Gennaro Contaldo , October 3, 2023, $35

Gennaro Contaldo was the chef who taught the British celebrity chef Jaime Oliver, or so Contaldo claims. (personally I’m not convinced that teaching Jaime Oliver is much of a claim, and I’m more on team Gordon Ramsay if I’m being honest). His new collection is also a celebration of Cucina Povera cooking.

Apparently this is the year to celebrate the cuisine of impoverished 20th century Italy. Contaldo dives deep into the best of economy cooking – but dishes like Chickpea fritters and ricotta dumplings are wonderful celebrations of southern cuisine. The book was released in Britain earlier this year when Contaldo spoke with Chris Evans on Virgin Radio.