Skip to content Skip to Menu KAL Accessibility Statement

OP: The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews (vols I and II) and The Classic Dolci of the Italian Jews

Write a review
| Ask a question
by Edda Servi Machlin

Edda Servi (1926–2019), born in small town Pitigliano, Tuscany, was a member of the generally prosperous and well-accepted Jewish community that had roots in the area dating back to the Spanish Inquisition. Machlin lived in hiding during WWII’s fascist regime and in 1958 relocated to the United States.

The food of Machlin’s Italian-Jewish heritage was largely unknown in the US at the time, and her home cooking quickly won many admirers among friends who were eager for the recipes. This laid the groundwork for her first cookbook, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews (1981). The book was so enormously popular that the demand for more led to a second volume in 1992 and a third, specific to sweets, in 1999.

Part-autobiography, part-ethnography, the first two books in particular detail the history and daily life of a community that has since dispersed. We are especially captivated by stories of the communal oven—buried deep in a natural cave—in use for centuries but, by Machlin’s time, employed only once annually for matzo making in preparation for Passover. 

The dishes range from quotidian to demanding, some clearly Italian in their roots, others redolent of the eastern Mediterranean and parts beyond. Holiday foods will, for many readers, be at once familiar and startlingly different. All of the dishes bring something new and surprising to the array associated with the annual round.

The first book had a long and varied life before going out of print. It was originally published by Everest, then picked up by American publisher Dodd, Mead & Company. Dodd, Mead in turn expired and was acquired by Thomas Nelson. Finally, Machlin herself, perhaps discouraged by this instability, took over the book and continued to issue it under her own imprint, Giro Press, with which she also published the following two books. 

We offer here all three volumes from Giro Press. The book block of Volume I is classified as Very Good; its case and jacket Very Good with minimal shelfwear. Volume II, a first printing, is Very Good Plus with a VG jacket bearing a crease to the rear where a small sliver of paper is missing. Dolci, also a first printing, is Fine with a Very Good Plus jacket. Both Vol I and II show some light kitchen splatter to the top edge.

The books have remained highly prized and some of our most requested out-of-print titles over the years. It is not uncommon for us to have an impressive waitlist for any of the volumes, so we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to offer them together now.

Shopping Cart