A History of Italian Cookbooks


Two sisters cook their way through a complete anthology of Italian regional cuisine, discovering how the dishes we love came to be.

This article, written by Tom Nealon, appears on The Boston Globe.

‘Damned Minestrone! You will never fool me again!’ A look at Italian cookbook history.

We take Italian food for granted. Surrounded as we are by cookbooks, cooking shows, and restaurants, both fancy and humble, featuring the cuisine of everyone’s favorite footwear-shaped country, we often fail to wonder how this wonderful food was passed down to us. So much of French, English, and American food was preserved in cookbooks from an early date — France and England both have unbroken runs of recipe books starting in the 17th century, but Italy was a little different.

Italy got off to a fast start, publishing the very first printed cookbook, “De Honesta Voluptate Valetudine” (“On Right Pleasure and Good Health,” Rome, 1474), itself cribbed from a slightly earlier cookbook by Martino da Como, a chef from the Milan area who traveled to Rome and became the most celebrated chef of the 15th century. Europe’s greatest Renaissance recipe book is also Italian… Read more.

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