You first came out with this book in 2005. Why do a new edition now already?
We thought that we needed to, since, from the beginning we wanted to have more photos. Also, in the first edition there were only 200 recipes, and this one has 2000. We decided to re-do the book completely. These recipes were re-done in the home kitchen, by home cooks.
What area of Italy are you from, and how did you get into publishing?
Como. My publishing career started in London—but before that I was working in Switzerland for design museums in Basel. And I met the owner of Phaidon and he hired me for my design experience. Th Silver Spoon was the only cookbook my family had in our kitchen growing up, so the publisher said—we should do this! So this cookbook launched all the other cookbooks.
What recipe resonates most with you?
I have my mother’s 1965 edition of the book, and I looked through and saw the stain in the book. And I remember the things she cooked. One dessert was a peach filled amoretti and chocolate and then baked. My grandfather came from Piedmont, and I think this recipe came from there. We only ate seasonal ingredients. In the north, peaches have a short though intense season.
When I was visiting relatives in Calabria, someone made a basil pesto as a kind of special dish, knowing that this food originated in Genoa and was quite uncommon in the south. Cooking in Italy is still regional—with the exception of, say pizza and maybe red sauce—but do you think this cookbook has offered Italians opportunities to branch out?
Yes. And what is interesting is that this is more a reference book. We don’t follow recipes step by step, we use them as a guide. In Italy, you take for granted that your readers know a lot. I remember when I traveled with my mother throughout Italy, we tried many different recipes that my mom would later re-create.
How did you rethink the design?
We added preparation and cooking time, which, in a way were imbedded in recipes, but now they are listed with ingredients–and we also have recipes from celebrated chefs. Now there are 400 photos. It’s arranged by course, so it’s easy to flip through. What we’ve also added is a section about menus for special occasions—like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In many Italian cookbooks published here, recipes are often grouped by region. Why is that not the case with this cookbook?
This has to do with the fact that in Italy you really do cook with local ingredients. In the north you have more butter; in the south you have beautiful olive oil, so each dish is prepared specifically for the ingredients. Risotto Milanese, for example, is still cooked in Milan and is eaten hardly anywhere else in the world.