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Cookbooks in the Pantry: Venice & Food


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? 

Venice & Food, written and illustrated by Sally Spector (1998)

Why I've kept it: Some books are meant for cooking, and others for cuddling. Venice & Food, which I purchased in Italy on my first visit to Venice, is a cuddling book. Hand-written and illustrated, this book is almost too gorgeous to use, too precious to disturb by ruffling its pages. If you have ever had the good fortune to visit Venice, you will no doubt have found a favorite square, a favorite sotoportego, a favorite ponte over a favorite canal, and perhaps a favorite wine bar or restaurant. And you will have fallen in love with the history, the art, and the food.

Here's an example of why I will always keep this book: 

"Today many rice dishes in Venice are served with freshly grated PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, or Parmesan cheese. This is not traditional since in the past this cheese was a luxury, if available at all. In fact, it was so precious that it was worthy of being offered in homage to foreign rulers, as the Venetian Republic did to the Grand Vizier of Constantinople during the intermittent periods of peace between them. Thanks to the greatly improved standard of living that the Veneto now enjoys, this expensive cheese has become quite common here. It is never served with dishes containing fish except BACALA ALLA VICENTINA and requesting it for such would be met with surprise and perhaps dismay."

So charming, so informative. Yes, there are recipes for the traditional foods of the Veneto, along with the history of the recipe and the ingredients. However, this book is a work of art as much as anything, and worthy of a place on your cookbook shelf if you are at all interested in Italian cooking.

Bookmarked, to try next: Authentic versions of risotto di pesce (rice with seafood) and melanzane al funghetto (sautéd eggplant skins).

Do you have Venice & Food on your cookbook shelf?

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I never been to Venice nor do I have a copy of "Venice and Food" but I do have a copy of Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” which is sort of the bible on Italian cooking. Also I spent many an afternoon in my friend’s house with his old school Italian mother teaching me some old school basics which I cherish to this day!

I haven't been to Venice and haven't seen this book, but it sounds charming and fun!

Interesting that a cookbook bought in Venice, is in English; I am curious about the author therefore.

I have been to venice (amazing and other-worldly!) but this book sounds charming! might have to locate a copy.
in the meantime lydia there is a relatively new restaurant close to you called "SRV" and they specialize in venetian italian food - no "chicken parm" on this menu! only amazing, thoughtful and creative dishes. I had opportunity to eat there recently and found it lovely. you should stop in sometime - if only to look around and maybe have a small plate.

That cover just makes me want to step in. How inspiring!
If you love food, mysteries and Venice, I hope you're reading the series by Donna Leon. She's an American, longtime resident of Venice, and her mysteries take you around Venice (on foot and by gondola) with Commissario Brunetti (https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=donna+leon). He walks home for lunch everyday -- a full meal, made by his wife (English lit professor) - always classic Italian. There's a cookbook too ( Brunetti's Cookbook
by Roberta Pianaro, Donna Leon ).

Lydia, I have the same cookbook that I bought my first trip to Venice. I still have it and love reading it.

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