In Italy good food is important to daily life, and in fact even children begin to appreciate it at an early age. One of the best features of Italian cuisine lies in its diversity. Different regions have different specialties; many times depending on what fresh ingredients are available. Italian food is known for its bold, but not overbearing flavors, and its delicious use of herbs, spices and cheeses. Today Italian food is increasingly popular in the United States where people everywhere enjoy hearty pastas, succulent sauces and of course pizzas. The trend toward healthy eating has only increased its popularity, as the benefits of a Mediterranean diet are becoming more widely known.


This pathfinder is meant for any adult interested in learning more about the cuisine of Italy, particularly those who live in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. The items cited provide the beginner with basic information about Italian food and some instruction on how to prepare Italian cuisine.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings
Cookery, Italian
Cookery, Italian-Neapolitan Style
Cookery, Italy-Northern Style
Cookery, Italy-Sicilian Style
Cookery, Italy-Southern Style
Italy, Southern
Italy, Northern
Italy-Social Life and Customs
Browsing Areas
TX 643-TX840
TX 723-TX723.2
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DAVIS: Davis Library Stacks UNC
DAVIS REF: Davis Library Reference Collection UNC
CAM: Wake County Library, Cameron Village Branch
HILL: D.G. Hill Library Stacks N.C. State University
Hill REF: D.G. Hill Library Reference Collection NC State University


These encyclopedias provide recipes of Italian cuisine as well as brief descriptions of the ingredients commonly used. They also include brief explanations of the many different regions in Italy and the kinds of dishes indigenous to them. If more information is desired about the different regions of Italy, a geographical source should be consulted.


Capalbo, C., Whiteman, K., Wright, J., & Boggiano A. (1997). The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. New York: Hermes House.
CAM 641.5945

This encyclopedia contains a short introduction that touches on the importance of food in Italian culture and the diversity of the food found in different regions. It has a large section devoted to Italian ingredients from meats to breads and including all the staples in between. These entries are heavily illustrated with color photographs and include definitions, histories, how to buy and store, and how to prepare the ingredients. The second half is devoted to recipes and directions to prepare authentic Italian dishes. The work also contains a large index.


Wright, J. (Ed.). (1986). The Encyclopedia of Italian cooking. New York: Crescent Books.
CAM 641.5945

This one volume encyclopedia contains an introduction that includes a brief history of food in Italy, as well as several pages describing the various regions and the type of cuisine that can be found there. There is also a glossary of special ingredients and a section each for the cured meats and sausages, cheeses, and wines of Italy. The rest of the encyclopedia is comprised of recipes that are simply written. The recipes are all labeled with the region where they originated. The encyclopedia is beautifully illustrated with color photographs on each page and it contains a comprehensive index.

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These dictionaries contain foreign food terms, as well as cooking terms that may be unfamiliar. They do not contain a specific Italian section, but Italian terms are scattered within.

Fyto, J. (1993). The Diners dictionary: food and drink from A to Z. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DAVIS REF TX349.A86 1993.

This dictionary is arranged alphabetically and contains a wide range of international food terms and dishes. As well as defining the dishes the entries state where and how the words have come from and if applicable how the meanings have changed.

Sinclair, C. (1998). International Dictionary of food and cooking. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.
DAVIS REF TX349.S55 1998

This dictionary contains 24,000 entries. The breadth includes classical dishes, ingredients, cooking processes, cooking implements and equipment. It also includes scientific, botanical, medical, technological, hygienic, and nutritional terms. It covers a wide range moving from simple cooking terms like pare, which means to thinly peel thinly, to defining the Italian dish acciugne contadina, an anchovy salad wit h onions, capers and olives.

Recipe Books

These books contain a collection of Italian recipes as well as instructions for how to prepare Italian foods.

Cecconi, A. (2000). Betty Crocker's Italian cookbook. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide.
CAM 641.5945

This cookbook begins with a brief description of the regions of Italy and the types of food that can be found in them. It also contains a short glossary of ingredients commonly found in Italian cuisine. The main body of the work is split into chapters according the different categories of dishes, such as before the meal, vegetables, main courses and desserts. The type is big and easy to read, and the instructions in the recipes are clear and simply put. The recipes include preparation times and cooking times, and there are helpful hints and tidbits of relevant information at the bottom of the pages. The book is illustrated on nearly every page with colored photographs of the dishes. The last section of the book contains menus, a glossary of cooking terms, a metric conversion guide, and nutrition information. There is also an index.

Hazan, M. (1997). Marcella Cucina. New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.
CAM 641.5945

This cookbook begins with the introduction from the author, an Italian woman who moved to America when she was in her 30's. It encapsulates her philosophy toward Italian food, the importance of fresh produce and her thoughts on how to choose and what types of Italian ingredients should be purchased. The rest of the cookbook is split into sections according to type of meal, appetizers, meat, and the like. The recipes are all prefaced with a personal story or a cooking tip. These recipes are slightly more complex with more ingredients and longer instructions. The collection has amazing breadth and covers dishes from the everyday to the exotic. It is heavily illustrated with color photographs and includes an index.

Loomis, S. H. (2000).Italian farmhouse cookbook. New York: Workman Publishing.
CAM 641.5945

This cookbook contains over 250 recipes. As is typical of cookbooks the recipes are arranged by courses. Before each recipe the author tells a story of where she got the recipe and often a little history about the dish or the ingredients involved. The recipes are comprised of simple ingredients, with instructions in plain language. There is often a wine suggestion included. The book includes an introduction that explains the author's travels to Italian farmhouses to collect the authentic recipes that follow.

Root, W.(1968). The cooking of Italy. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books.
CAM 641.5945

This recipe collection begins with an excellent lengthy introduction. The introduction covers the author's personal philosophy and experiences with the food in Italy. It also includes a history of Italian food beginning in 1533 and ending in the 18th century. Following this history are recipes of this era. The second chapter focuses on Modern Italian cuisine, the basics of modern Italian cooking, with recipes to follow. The strength of this collection is the rest of the book, which is divided up into regions with a lengthy description of the types of food one might find there and recipes instructing how to make these. This cookbook is illustrated with color photographs and includes a recipe index, general index, and a glossary.

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These articles each specifically describe and define a particular element of Italian cuisine. In turn they focus on Neapolitan cuisine, pasta the health benefits of an Italian/Mediterranean diet, and pizza. These articles were retrieved from Academic Search FullTEXT Elite or Academic Universe as noted. Both of these databases may be accessed from the UNC Library homepage in Davis Library, by selecting the indexes and abstracts page.

Apple, R.W., Jr. (1999,December 8). Finding its voice Naples sings an aria. The New York Times, p. F1.

This article describes the traditional fare that can be found in Naples. Naples specialties are named as the author describes a series of eating experiences at a number of restaurants in Naples. Two traditional Neapolitan recipes follow the article.

Jenkins, N.H. (1997, September 17). From Italy the truth about pasta. The New York Times, p. F1.

This article focuses on the differences between the way Americans eat and prepare pasta and the way pasta is prepared in Italy. The article contains directions for properly cooking dried pasta and a list of good pasta brands available in the United States. Four recipes for pasta with various sauces follow the article.

Olney, J. (1993, September). Eating well Italian style. Prevention, 45, 82-95.
Academic Search FullTEXT Elite

This article focuses on the health benefits gained from a Mediterranean diet. The article describes the basics of typical Italian meals, and why these principles may benefit overall health. Several recipes follow the article with nutritional information included.

Staller, J. ( 1997, June). As American as pizza pie. Smithsonian, 28, 138-147.
Academic Search FullTEXT Elite

This article focuses on the beloved pizza. Pizza is examined as an American phenomenon, which has spread worldwide. The history of pizza is given starting with ancient Middle Eastern flatbreads, continuing up to the birth of modern pizza in Naples, and ending with the introduction of pizza in America after World War II. The article also analyzes pizza in current times from New York pizza to Dominos.

Histories and Biographies
These books focus on the history of Italian cuisine, and describe what food trends existed through a particular period of time in a specific place.

Camporesi, P. (1993). The Magic Harvest: food folklore and society (J. Hall, Trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press.
DAVIS GT2853. I 8 C3613 1993

This history focuses on the folklore of food in Italy as well as the evolution of Italian cuisine. It begins in the pre-industrial period and ends with the dietary customs of modern day Italy.

Cipriani, A. (1996). Harry's bar: The life and times of the legendary Venice landmark. New York: Arcade Publishing.
DAVIS TX945.5.H37

This is both a history and a biography of the famous bar and restaurant in Venice, and of the family who owned it. The book is full of the owner's philosophies of food, drink and service, and gives a peek into the daily life of owning and running a restaurant in Italy. It chronicles the life of the first owner Giuseppe Cipriani, and then the life of his son who took over the business and opened a second bar in New York.

Merchant, Ismail. (2001). Ismail Merchant's Florence: filming and feasting in Tuscany. New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc.
DAVIS PN19997.R575653 M47 2001

This is an autobiography by Ismail Merchant and chronicles the time he spent in Florence making the movie A Room With A View. This book is notable for its beautiful and abundant photography of the landscape and foods of Florence. The stories of making the film are interspersed with tales of the feasts they were served and the food they consumed. Several pages of simple recipes follow at the end.

Rinaldi, M. &Vicini, M. Buon appetito, your holiness: the secrets of the papal table. New York: Arcade Publishing
DAVIS TX723.R5274

This history chronicles the evolution of food in Rome by describing the dishes of popularity at the time each pope. The book starts with St. Peter, and ends with Pope John Paul II. For each notable figure it gives a description, often ending with an anecdote tying the figure in some way to food. Recipes follow each of foods that would have been prepare and eaten in that place and time.

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Indexes and Abstracts
These indexes are available from the Electronic Indexes and Databases listing at the UNC Libraries homepage. The may be accessed at Davis Library. Useful search terms include "Italy and cookery", "Italy" and "cookery". Searching these databases can provide useful information including magazine and newspaper articles.

Academic Search FullTEXT Elite. Ipswich, MA: EBSCO Publishing. Electronic Access.
http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/ - select Academic FullTEXT Elite

This database contains information from a wide range of academic areas. Some of these areas include business, social sciences, multicultural topics, and general academic topics. It contains full text articles from over 1,000 journals and abstracts and indexing for over 2,3000 scholarly journals as well as coverage of many important newspapers. This is an excellent source to find articles on the cooking of Italy, and on Italy in general.

Academic Universe. Dayton OH: Lexis/Nexis and the Congressional Information Service. Electronic Access.
http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/ - select Academic Universe

This database covers general, regional, and international news, as well as company news, legal information, and biographical information. Many of the articles are full text. This is a useful source to find Italian restaurant reviews and cookbook reviews as well as other articles about the cuisine of Italy.

Guides and Geographical Sources

These guides and geographical sources provide insight to the different regions of Italy, and background information about the geography of Modern Italy.

Cole, J.P. (1964). Italy: An Introductory geography. New York: Frederick A. Praeger.
HILL DG417 C 6

This geography contains several points of interest that directly affect the cuisine of Italy such as sections on the agriculture and fishing of Italy, as well as a section on food and drink. There is also a section on each of the regions of Italy, explaining geographical features as well as key industries and agriculture of each region.

Hammond Atlas of the World (2nd ed.). (1999). Maplewood, NJ: Hammond.
HILL REF GEOGRAPHY g1021.H2665 1999

This atlas contains brightly colored maps of different parts of Italy that may be examined to discover where the different regions are located geographically.

Steve, Rick. (2001). Rick Steve's Italy 2001. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing.
CAM 914.5 RICK

This guidebook splits Italy into regions and provides in depth tourist information for each such as how to get around, what sights to see, and where to stay. In each section there are also suggestions of where to eat. The introduction to the guide includes maps, information about exchange rates, and a brief synopsis about the cuisine and restaurants of Italy.

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Internet Resources
These internet websites are well designed and easy to navigate. They provide background information about Italy as well as recipes and lists of other resources. Some of these sources also contain interactive elements.

Global Gourmet. (2001). The electronic Gourmet Guide Inc.

This site contains a bit of history and information about the geography of Italy. It contains several links that are useful if one is planning to visit Italy, such as how to order Italian coffee, and where and when to eat. The most useful aspect of this site is a long list of links to Italian cookbooks, and a list of links to Italian recipes. The homepage also contains contact information, contributors to the website, and awards the website has won.

In Italy.com. (1993-2001). Words in Pictures, Inc.

The most useful part of this site is a map and a list of the various regions of Italy. Once clicked upon there is an article for each one with a little history, some accommodation suggestions, festivals that take place there, and food specialties of the particular region.

Italy1.com. (15 July 1997). Italy1.

This site has several excellent interactive features. There is an online chat forum, as well as a cooking board, on which people can post questions and comments as well as respond to others. There is a recipes sampler with recipes for Italian appetizers, meats, pasta, vegetables, and desserts. This site also contains a search mechanism.

Sally's Place.com. (2001) Sally's Place.

On this site's homepage Sally's credentials are listed as well as the contributors to the site, which can be clicked upon to display their credentials. The Italy page has an article with background information on Italy. There is some geography, history and a discussion of the different regions. Part of the article focuses on the food and how it differs regionally, how to choose Italian ingredients, and eating customs. It also contains some information about festivals in Italy, cooking vacations offered in Italy and some suggestions for accommodation. The site offers a list of recipes and some information on Italian neighborhoods in the United States.


Questions or comments? Contact mtardiff@email.unc.edu
Images from: www.cyberdiet.com, www.italiantourism.com,www.cucina-italiana.com., www.italmangia.com, and ww.softdoc.es/madrid/eatingout/international/italian.html