Universally acclaimed by the critics, and now available for the first time in paperback, here is an inspiring, wide-ranging, A-Z guide to one of the world's best-loved cuisines. Designed for cooks and consumers alike, The Oxford Companion to Italian Food covers all aspects of the history andculture of Italian gastronomy, from dishes, ingredients, and delicacies to cooking methods and implements, regional specialties, the universal appeal of Italian cuisine, influences from outside Italy, and much more. Gillian Riley here celebrates a heritage of amazing richness and delight. She brings equal measures of enthusiasm and expertise to her writing, and her entries read like mini-essays, laced with wit and gastronomical erudition, marked throughout by descriptive brilliance, and entirely freeof the pompous tone that afflicts so much writing about food. The Companion is attentive to both tradition and innovation in Italian cooking, and covers an extraordinary range of information, from Anonimo Toscano, a medieval cookbook, to Bartolomeo Bimbi, a Florentine painter commissioned by Cosimode Medici to paint portraits of vegetables, to Paglierina di Rifreddo, a young cheese made of unskimmed cows' milk, to zuppa inglese, a dessert invented by 19th century Neapolitan pastry chefs. Major topics receive extended treatment. The entry for Parmesan, for example, runs to more than 2,000words and includes information on everything from its remarkable nutritional value to the breed of cow used to produce it (the razza reggiana, or vacche rosse). For anyone with a hunger to learn more about the history, culture and variety of Italian cuisine, The Oxford Companion to Italian Food offers endless satisfactions.