Italian Food. Drawings by Renato Guttoso.

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1958.

Octavo, 322, xvi, [2] pages. FIRST AMERICAN EDITION of a modern English cookbook of significance. Italian Food is Elizabeth David’s third book, following A Book of Mediterranean Food and French Country Cooking, and along with these titles is responsible – in part – for revitalizing English cooking after the Second World War, with better techniques and fresher ingredients, and inspiring an interest in the cuisines of Southern Europe. She was less familiar with Italian cooking and ingredients than with the food of France, but several trips to Italy in the early 1950s provided sufficient research for her book to be given a warm reception upon its publication. Evelyn Waugh called it “one of the two books that had given him the most pleasure in that year.” A Publisher's Note references some of the changes that were made to the book in preparation for the American edition. We have had the pleasure of examining the copy of this book that belonged to the book's American editor, Avis DeVoto, in the collections of the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe, as well as related correspondence between DeVoto and David. The changes in the American edition are indeed much more profound than the publisher lets on in the preface, much of it due to DeVoto's exhaustive attempts to track down ingredients in American markets and to cook the dishes in an American kitchen with American equipment. To name just one notable distinction, it was determined that butchers in America would not put up with the specific and exacting requests laid out in the original book. The book is a trifle age-toned, otherwise fine in publisher's blue cloth. In an unclipped dust jacket with light staining along the bottom edge, and some chipping to the head and foot of the spine. Still near very good, and with the handsome illustration of Renato Guttoso.

Price: $300.00