Like Elizabeth David, Claudia Roden can write about anything. Whether it's Middle Eastern, Spanish or Italian food, she is the cook to turn to.
She is world renowned for her classic books like Arabesque and the Book of Jewish Food. These draw on her Egyptian Jewish roots so it's no wonder Middle Eastern chefs like Ottolenghi are among her biggest fans.
But it is interesting to see that Russell Norman of Polpo cites Food of Italy as his favourite cookbook. Polpo is very cool, very modern, very Italian and yet still Claudia Roden's classic is his go-to cookbook.
Food of Italy was first published 25 years ago next year. But the recipes are so fresh yet timeless they are hard to date. For this edition she has updated over 30% of the recipes to fit modern tastes with new inclusions like farro salad and burrata.
The book is structured by region. So you get the glorious tomato and aubergine dishes of Sicily; the classically Roman dishes like salty meat and fried vegetables, and rich Tuscan stews and soups, and so on. With over 300 short recipes it is an incredible repertoire, and it is completely approachable for home cooks.
This fully illustrated edition includes recipe photos as well as local Italy scenes. This is the first time it has had photos since it was originally published.
Claudia Roden was born and brought up in Cairo, educated in Paris and in London, where she has lived for many years. Widely admired as both a great cook and a fine writer, she has written classic works on Middle Eastern food and Mediterranean cookery including The Book of Jewish Food and The Food of Spain.