Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fed By Silver Spoon, Part One

You already know how dangerous stores like
Target and Costco can be to people like me. Just call me a sucker for merchandising, someone whose cart is filled with 10 unnecessary impulse buys, whether it be hairclips or a new cereal, before she reaches the checkstand.

At Costco, temptation usually comes in the form of food, like "Hey, you wanna try these
Armenian foccacia? Our fridge is full, but let's try them anyway." But every so often, I'll find something in the media aisle that will catch my eye. More recently, my impulse buys from this section of the warehouse has been in the form of novels that I'm trying very hard to replace my television with. I always check out the cookbook section, but all you see lately are Rachael Ray and Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee books, and who needs culinary inspiration from them?

The other day, however, I happened to be browsing the cookbook section when a tome of a cookbook with a silver spoon on its stark white cover caught my eye. "Italy's best selling cookbook for over fifty years. The bible of authentic Italian cooking," a sticker on the front cover read. I'd heard about The Silver Spoon before in a news article saying that the legendary Italian cookbook would finally be published in English, and lo and behold, it was there right in front of me. And for 42 percent off the cover price of $39.95. I had to have it.

As with all of my new cookbooks, I like to sit down and read them when I get home; you know, a little one-on-one, get-to-know-you time.

"Uh yes, Silver Spoon, do you have anything in particular you'd like to share?"

First thing out of his mouth: "EATING IS A SERIOUS MATTER."

(Yeah, no shit)

I think this is going to work out just fine.

I'm thinking that The Silver Spoon is to Italians sort of what The Joy Of Cooking is to Americans--"the book that has its place in every family kitchen, the one that many brides have received as a wedding gift." Like its American "counterpart," the book is jam packed with recipes--over 2000 of them--and covers everything from simple sauces to roasted meats to dessert. The Silver Spoon, however, seems way more intense. Rather than your typical chapter titles of "Vegetables," "Seafood," or "Meat," there are entire chapters devoted to a single type of vegetable or animal or even part of an animal. Want belgian endive? You got it. How about brain or calf's head? That, too. Oh, and did I mention its got pretty pictures? My only gripe with that, however, is that the pictures are uncaptioned and that sometimes I'm left to guess which recipe it corresponds with. You mean you need me to think?

For tomorrow's dinner

For all you Belgian Endive-philes

I just love pretty pictures!

Look for a gnocchi post one of these days!

Granted, I've never seen the un-translated, un-
Phaidonized Italian version, but there is still a certain primitivity about these recipes that I love. Many of the ingredients lists are short and simple, though many use ingredients which may not be popular or readily available in the States. (You may have some luck finding "Pluck and Lights," or lamb lungs and vital organs, for example, at some butchers; at others, not so much) The cooking directions are written in concise, choppy sentences, almost as if they were from recipes scribbled on pieces of paper and passed on through generations. Having read through the preface "Our Spoon" regarding the English translation, I learned that English language cookbooks tend to have more detailed explanations than Italian ones, and that The Silver Spoon's translators made it their goal to make the English version user-friendly to its readers while also retaining the Italian character of the book. With this in mind, I'm dying to see the Italian version. I imagine that reading its recipes are like getting a Chinese cooking lesson from my mom: no exact measurements, just a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Too bad I can't read Italian.

All the sauces you can imagine...even "brain sauce" and "Chinese sauce"

I'm ecstatic to have added this book to my collection, though I don't think that I'll be preparing half of the dishes in here. I see myself making some of the more simple dishes, like bread soup with tomato or porcini with prosciutto or zucchini frittata, but I don't imagine that I'll be making brain sauce, guinea fowl, or kidneys in madeira anytime soon.

"Enough about the book," you say, "go make something from it!" Stay tuned for part two.


BoLA said...

Ahh....I'm such a sucker for Costco and Target too! ;) I've eyed this book but wasn't sure if it was worth it. Your thoughts???

eatdrinknbmerry said...

I just ordered this book off brand new for $26.87 before tax/shipping. It's been on my wishlist for a while. Thanks for pushing me to hit the 'Submit Order' button.

Sandra Lee has a book? What the hell?

Grace said...

I was going to tell you it was cheaper on but looks like someone beat me to the punch!

It definitely goes on my wishlist though.

Sylvie said...

Costco does occasionally have some great buys. Prior to the holidays I found Hot, Sour Salty Sweet at a great discounted price.

I believe 42% off $39.95 is $23.17 which is less than Amazon's $26.87.

elmomonster said...

Can't wait to see a calf's head appear when load up your page in the coming days Pam.

Erin S. said...

They sell cookbooks too?? Now I really need to get my costco membership. I've been wanting the Silver Spoon for awhile. I await your calf brain adventures.

Jessica said...

I almost bought that when I saw it at Costco, too! Dangerous for impulse buys. The check/cash only policy helps mitigate it a teensy bit, tho. Sounds fun to thumb through, but for cooking I got plenty of fab books that I don't use enough as is. Instead I'll check out my friend's copy of Silver Spoon (she too succumbed to Costco cookbook temptation).

Daily Gluttony said...


It's a great book just to have, IMO. Like I said, there prolly won't be a chance that I'll cook brain, but isn't it cool just to have a book that has that...just in case? LOL!


Cool! Tell me what you end up cooking from it!


Actually, it was $22.99 at Costco, but I should have made that more clear in the post, instead of making all y'all do math. LOL! And yes, DO add it to your wishlist!


Yeah, sometimes if you really look, they've got some great deals on cookbooks. I'm kicking myself for not buying Tony Bourdain's cookbook when I saw it there a while ago for $19.99. Oh well.

Yes, you're right about that the book cost less than Amazon...thanks for clarifying to everyone. Actually the book was $22.99, so it was more like 42.453066% off. LOL!


Now wouldn't that be an interesting post?!? =)


You can order it from Amazon for a little more...I believe Dylan said it was a little over $26? That way you avoid paying a $45 membership and get stuck with 10 gallon jugs of salad dressing.


That's some good willpower! But do make sure you borrow your friend's copy!

kookiegoddess said...

hey there are captions on the pics, look right by the spine on the opposite page to each pic, at the bottom - it's in REALLY small letters.

as if a bible of italian food would leave you guessing!! I love the silver spoon...

Happy cooking!