Patricia Wells’ Trattoria is a terrific cookbook. Sure, it’s 22 years old, but there are plenty of lovely things in the world that are 22 that shouldn’t be dismissed—that cute blond actor from The Hunger Games, for example—so why should it?
The Trattoria recipes I tried were tasty and no-nonsense, while still packing plenty of flavor and rising above the ho-hum. The Tomato sauce was simple and perfect; the Milanese Vegetable Soup comforting and delicious; and the Risotto, while a tad one-dimensional, still tasty and a good option for a mid-week meal. The recipes I dog-eared for later, including the Celery Salad with Anchovy Dressing (or Insalata di Puntarella in Italian, which sounds like something served in a fairy tale) and the Pasta and Bean Soup, are high on my list for March.
When I first posted that I’d be cooking from Trattoria, my friend Justine commented that she loves the book…and then proceeded to rattle off a few favorite recipes pronto when asked. It’s that kind of collection: memorable, a go-to for years to come.
This got me thinking about the hot cookbooks of the moment, so I hunted down 2014’s best-selling tomes. They included some obvious ones: Plenty and More Plenty by He-Who-Worships-the-Vegetable, Yotam Ottolenghi; the hyper trendy Practical Paleo; and the annoyingly sanctimonious The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out.
The list also includes the provocatively titled Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*&k…which I had my doubts about until I cracked it open online and found the best cookbook chapter title I’ve ever read: “Big-Ass Cup of Cozy” (for Soups and Stews, of course).
I immediately purchased a copy and will report back soon.
Which of these cookbooks will endure? I can only wonder since I haven’t cooked from any of them. But when I think back on some of the of-the-moment cookbooks I have tried, The I Hate to Cook Book from the ’60s, and that awful Smoothies guide from the ’90s, I’m doubtful many of them will make the leap to Classic Status (and certainly not anything with the word “paleo” in the title).
Trattoria, I know we’ll be cooking buds for years to come. You’re the little black dress of the cookbook world—versatile, fabulous for most any cook, comfortable yet snazzy.
In fact, my only complaint (other than with the slightly Chef Boyardee aspect of the risotto) is with some of Wells’ English translations for the Italian recipe titles.
“Coffee and Mascarpone Ladyfinger Cream” for tiramisu?
That might not be, shall we say, dinner party ready.
The results: 9 spatulas