Bloomsbury Press, $45.00, 480 pages
As a coffee table book, Bocca Cookbook is exceptional. As a cookbook, very few, if any, home cooks would benefit having it. Jacob Kennedy is a chef/owner of an Italian restaurant in London, and his recipe writing is more suitable for professional chefs and home cooks of semi-professional quality having true passion for authentic Italian cooking. The book is massive and filled with absolutely gorgeous full-page photos of food, people, landscapes and cityscapes. Many recipes are illustrated with the final product, displayed as a high-end restaurant would serve them. Some simple recipes appear here and there (spaghettini with raw tomatoes, grilled polenta, steak with parsley and garlic) but with most you likely spend hours in preparation. For many ingredients a well-stocked Italian market is a must (zucchini flowers—male if possible; wild asparagus, bottarga, carnaroli rice; cotechino, chestnut honey). Many recipes you would not serve to your guest, using raw tender horsemeat, raw young beef, shrimp and langustine. The writing is excellent and a pleasure to read. A small series of photos illustrate the techniques. Recipe layout is convenient but a 15-page set of photos following the index make it awkward to search. The Index is good, but brief and incomplete.