Quirk Books, $24.95, 288 pages
What happens when a cookbook designer and a high-end Italian restaurant owner decide to write a cookbook? A very unusual, authentic Italian cookbook illustrated by striking and dramatic black-and-white drawings. The recipes are so authentic that many home cooks would be scratching their heads in an attempt to figure out where to get some of the ingredients (brain, farmed rabbits, cured pig cheeks) though the authors often offer alternates. Nevertheless, an Italian grocery store within driving distance is essential. The pastas (nearly hundred) are listed in alphabetic order, describing each with full-page black-and-white designs based on their shapes. Following description, several recipes are suggested using that specific pasta shape, as well as alternative sauces that you may prepare with that pasta. This is a beautiful cookbook (even without the required color illustrations) but well beyond the interest of the average home cook, or even an average Italian cook. But a true Francophile would find a special place for it on the cookbook shelf. The book concludes with two indexes of sauces, one in Italian and one in English.
Reviewed by George Erdosh