The Italian Almanac

eating Italian

Italian News - September 13

Il Cucchiaio d'Argento (The Silver Spoon) has been the best-selling cookery book in Italy for more than half a century, the quintessential gift for newlyweds, required reading in every kitchen. Now it has been translated into English, offering Britain's domestic gods and goddesses hundreds of classic recipes from Umbria to Sicily.

The tome owes its origins to Domus, the design and architectural magazine set up by the architect Gio Ponti in 1928. In its earlier years the magazine had a wider household brief than it has today. During its early decades the magazine commissioned a group of cooking experts to travel Italy collecting hundreds of traditional recipes. They updated ingredients, quantities and methods to suit the tastes and customs at the time, while preserving the national memory of traditional foods.

In 1950 the recipes were published altogether - 2,000 of them - as Il Cucchiaio d'Argento. It has since sold more than 2 million copies. The idea for the English translation came when Richard Schlagman, a publisher, and Emilia Terragni, editorial director of the British art and design publishers Phaidon, was meeting Domus magazine staff. "I was convinced straight away that Phaidon should publish The Silver Spoon for the international market, but to prove my enthusiasm was not driven only by a patriotic pride, we asked a number of cookery specialists for their expert opinion on the book."

Despite the plethora of Italian cookery publications on the market, their response was overwhelmingly positive. So the publishing house, best known for its architecture, art and design portfolio, embarked on its first cookery book, which will be published next month. This first translation is being published simultaneously in the UK, Australia and America.