OP: The Complete In Bocca Series by Edizone Il Vespro (20 vols)
The In Bocca books are marvelous in many respects. Each is either bilingual (Italian and English) or trilingual (the same material with the addition of the regional dialect). They are distinctively designed, printed on rough oatmeal paper, and bound in corrugated cardboard. The covers are imaginatively screened prints, and the interiors are nicely illustrated as well, with the dialect rendered in what appears to be actual handwriting.
To be clear, however, these are not souvenir novelty items. They are serious compilations of highly unusual material, recognizing the value of recording the distinctive dishes of twenty regionalized food traditions, from the Alps in the north to Sicily and its islands deep in the Mediterranean.
Widely acknowledged for both their authority and their quirky individuality (each is by a different, we presume local, author), they are much sought after. The regions covered in the series are:
Friuli and Trieste
- Milano (Lombardia)*
- Sicilia and Isole*
One caution for those who do not know these books: because of their somewhat unorthodox materials and construction, they must be handled with a degree of care. If they are opened too far, the interior hinges can begin to split. And the corrugated board stock used for the covers dents and bumps easily. But to be perfectly clear, the copies we offer here are all described as at least Very Good; some flaws here or there but totally clean and sound.
Although there have been reprints (and even those tend to be quite scarce), these are the original editions, published between 1976 and 1979 by Edizone Il Vespro in Palermo.
What is special about this set in particular is that 13 of the 20 volumes (asterisked in the list above) were acquired from food writer John Thorne’s personal collection. Store founder, Nach Waxman, had a long friendship and correspondence with Thorne and ended up purchasing his collection of In Boccas before Nach's passing in 2021.
While those volumes aren't marked by ownership signatures or bookplates, our out-of-print manager, Laura Jackson, can personally vouch for their provenance, as she was involved in the acquisition as Nach's assistant at the time. To lend further credibility, the Milano book is gift inscribed to Thorne's wife, Matt Lewis Thorne, by Dean and Deluca (in one hand). She had been a longtime manager and head of the book department with the high-end grocery chain.
It is a pleasure to offer the series as a complete set, and we don’t expect to be able to do it again in the near future. But as interest has not waned over the years, we are always on the lookout for more.