Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Italian Cookbook by Maria Gentile

The full title of this free public domain e-book is:

The Italian Cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, Practical recipes of the Italian cuisine, pastries, sweets, frozen delicacies, and syrups

The cookbook is a back-to-basics, farmhouse-style recipe book that features all the classic recipes of the Italian cucina casalinga, Italian housewife cookery.  The Preface stresses that the Italian cuisine is "palatable, nourishing and economical".  It also affirms that Italians are:
...among whom the art of living well and getting the most out of life at a moderate expense has been attained to a very high degree.
There is also an odd mention of the "splendid manhood and womanhood of Italy".

Without a Table of Contents, it is the hyper-linked Index at the back of the book that offers the best oversight of the simply-explained 221 recipes.

Housewife circa 1900, the time of the book's first printing

The organization of the recipes is at times haphazard.  The measurements are most often given in weight, rather than cups, like today's recipes.  The instructions are minimal.  But these things do not detract from the overall breadth of the recipes.  All the basics of Italian cooking are here, for free!

Here is an unofficial Table of Contents to give you an idea of the every-day Italian recipes in this book:
  1. Soups
  2. Pasta and Sauces
  3. Rice Dishes
  4. Artichokes
  5. Misc. Egg and Chicken Dishes
  6. Fowl
  7. Game
  8. Sauces
  9. Meat
  10. Zucchini and other Vegetable Dishes
  11. Fish and Eel
  12. Roast Meats
  13. Kidney and Other Parts
  14. Onions, Celery & Stews
  15. Trout
  16. Eggs
  17. Puddings
  18. Cakes
  19. Biscotti
  20. Syrups & Preserves
  21. Frozen Desserts

An advertisement circa 1900 for an instant beef-stock, a time-saver for the overworked housewife

The Italian Cookbook was fist published by the Italian Book Co. New York in 1919.

Founded in 1902, the company was headquartered on Mulberry Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1962, the company's name was changed to Italian Book Corporation.  Since the 1970s, the main activities of the corporation have been in the area of music publishing. Its retail store on Mulberry street was closed in 1975.  Since its founding, the company has been owned and operated by the DeMartino family.  For more information about the company and its current activities, please visit their website.

A Singer sewing machine, another time-saver for a housewife circa 1900

The Italian Cookbook is in the public domain so it is offered for free, in various e-book formats, from Project Gutenberg, the grand-daddy of free e-book websites.

The Italian Cookbook is also available from the Internet Archive in various e-book formats, including a PDF of the scanned book.  Look to the top left of the Internet Archive page for the e-book download links.

You can also download a free Kindle version from Amazon.com.  Here is the direct link:

Circa 1900 doing the wash, and that wringer was a muscle saver!

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.


No comments:

Post a Comment