Pros: Deftly designed with serious cooks and cooking students in mind
Cons: Not for culinary criminals looking to steal a few minutes of study; serious food handlers, only.
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine
The International Culinary Center with Cesare Casella & Stephanie Lyness
Reviewed by Jim Berman
I did not want to like The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine. Any collection that appears ‘complete’ rarely ever is. Through the pages, I look for some recipe or technique that I know to be lost. And usually it is; not necessarily, some obscure bit, but a chunk that should be there but is absent and then my confidence wanes. Delightfully, I am proud to proclaim I do not think that to be the case with The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine. The compendium is all there!
It will take some time to get through The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine and it is not a cookbook, per se, for the casual cook or the weekend kitchen thrill-seeker. Once The French Culinary Institute, the good folks are now The International Culinary Center and have made the mental push-ups of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine well worth the heavy lifting.
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine is a text book. Let’s be clear. It is technique-heavy and laden with history, instruction, nods to geography and process. The 500+ pages are divided, with a stroke of genius, by Recipes and Lessons. Within those sections, the recipes are gathered up into culminating groups on, say, vegetables. In that section, for example, there will be a bit piece on the etymology of name of the dish, a little dash of history and, perhaps, some notes on variations. The twenty chapters grab at the requisite pasta, risotto and breads, but are also colored with separate chapters on bean soups, various proteins, cakes and frozen desserts, among others. Speaking of color, there are over 600 photographs that make for a lesson on frenching a lamb rack or filling and shaping ravioli that much easier to bring to life in your own kitchen. The Lessons section goes as far as breaking down the brigade system, some introductory elements of sanitation and knife selection. Like I said, it is complete.
Because the rest of the world is right and we are wrong, the recipes use the metric system. If you aren’t a fan of converting or rolling with the way that proper recipes should be scribed, there are equivalents provided, although volume is a much less accurate medium for scaling ingredients. One day we’ll learn. In the meantime, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine will deliver the goods and bring about a classroom mode for delivering the 20 regions of Italy to you, spoonful by glorious spoonful.
Gnocchi from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine: