Italian Food

by Elizabeth David

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Date of publication

Recommended by

Annabel Langbein

Author and celebrity cook

I have a copy of the very first 1954 edition, gifted from a distant cousin, and two more modern copies. This was the first book that provided an inkling of the range of regional Italian home cooking and the often-complex food traditions from region to region, and the book I used as my guide when I stepped into my first professional cooking job, at the age of 19 as the “chef” for a little neighbourhood restaurant in Gisborne on New Zealand's East Cape.

Sarah Beattie

Food writer

A classic, a book I return to often. I have a beautiful hardback edition, updated by David in 1987 with fabulous historical illustrations. It doesn't worry me that there are no pictures of the dishes and that the recipes are sometimes, if not incomplete, well, maybe under-explained for the novice cook. It feels like you're trusted to understand. Its compass is remarkable.

Cheryl Cohen

Farmer's market organizer

I still have my grandmother's copy of Italian Food. I used to copy out recipes and read chapters that made me want to travel to Italy, to cook and eat the food. At a time when ice cream meant a block of supermarket vanilla or Neapolitan, reading how to make apricot ice and coffee granita was a dream.

Rachel Roddy

Food writer and blogger

There are several passages of writing I turn to again and again in this book: the chapter about Italian measurements, the caramel oranges, fish markets, cheeses it is a food writing touchstone. Also a dozen or so favourite recipes.

Rachel McCormack

Writer and broadcaster

There are thousands of Italian cookbooks in English. This was one of the first and still has some of the best recipes and the most thorough research

Letitia Clark

Food writer

Perhaps less comprehensive than her French Provincial Cooking but still fascinating and filled with interesting historical anecdotes.

Valeria Necchio

Cookbook author

For its seasonal, simple recipes and engaging tales hailing from all regions of Italy.

Fiona Burrell

Founder, Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

Half reference and half recipe book it is a classic and beautifully written book

Ed Mottershaw

Head Chef, The Eagle Farringdon

CJ Jackson

Principal and Chief Executive, Billingsgate Seafood School

Bob Hart


Tristram Stuart

Food waste activist

Kevin Gould

Professional Food Lover

Sue Carter

Oenophile and Home Cook

Stephanie Alexander

Food writer, former restaurateur, food educator

Paulette Licitra


David Dale


Tom Conran


Tim Hunt


Franco Taruschio

Chef/proprietor and cookbook author

Ruth Rogers

American born British Chef who owns and runs the Michelin Star Italian restaurant, The River Cafe

Theo Randall

Chef/Patron of Theo Randall at the InterContinental

Felicity Souter

Writer, artist and cook

Sri Owen

Food writer and cook

Elly Curshen

Writer and Owner of Pear Cafe

Carol Field

Food writer and broadcaster

Nick Lander

Food writer and restaurant consultant

Chris Stueart

Co-founder, FOOD-X