The cookbook that couldn’t find a home

Hundreds of EYB Members own Gina DePalma’s 2007 book Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, which enjoys a five-star rating. What you might not know is that DePalma penned a follow-up travelogue/cookbook that explored the sweets of every Italian region. That’s because DePalma died of cancer at age 49, before the book could be published. With a working title of “My Sweet Italy,” the project was to be a hybrid cookbook and culinary tour that would highlight the regionality of Italy’s great pastry traditions. Taste Cooking brings us the story – as well as three recipes excerpted from the final manuscript.

DePalma worked furiously on her sophomore effort, even as she battled the ovarian cancer that would finally take her life. Taste Cooking’s Adam Reiner was allowed to read the complete manuscript, which DePalma had submitted to her publisher, W.W. Norton in March 2013, two years before she passed away. Strangely, Norton decided not to move forward with the book’s publication, and it offered little explanation for its decision to shelve the project.

Anthony Bourdain, a good friend of DePalma, tried to get his publishing company to take it on, but was not able to convince them to publish Sweet Italy. So the book sits in limbo, finished except for layout and design, but with no place to call home. It seems as though publishers are hesitant to put out a book with no author to back it up, but that didn’t stop them from publishing Bourdain’s posthumous work (finished, of course, by Laurie Woolever, Bourdain’s longtime assistant). We might not understand what, exactly, is keeping the book from seeing the light of day, but one thing we do know: based on the excerpted recipes, cookbook lovers are all the poorer for it.

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  • Jenny  on  August 18, 2021

    I’d pay $100 for a copy of that manuscript. What are those publishers thinking?

  • Jane  on  August 18, 2021

    I’d definitely buy that book. A culinary tour of the desserts of Italy – my favorite kind of book!

  • Indio32  on  August 19, 2021

    How desperately sad.

  • riley  on  August 19, 2021

    This is really a shame. I would buy this book too. How about petitioning the publisher? I think there would be support from members of the many cookbook clubs. Or what about something in conjunction with the American Cancer Society or an Ovarian Cancer Research Fund? I would expect tremendous support from cookbook lovers as well as many people that support cancer research.
    I’m clueless about these things but it seems a crime for this book to go unpublished.

  • franniepie  on  August 19, 2021

    Yes, I’d be very happy to have that book. It’d be a shame if it never gets published. Her writing was so warm & knowledgeable and her zeal for the cuisine was inspiring. You could tell the care she put into recipe development. Her Italian cheesecake is my ideal and I’d love to be able to contribute to her mission of keeping these foods alive in my own kitchen with more of her work.

  • EmilyR  on  August 19, 2021

    I think we should all honor her memory and work and bombard the publisher with letters and emails so they are aware the demand is there.

  • Jenny  on  August 19, 2021

    Something may be in the works. So stay tuned.

  • chasse1  on  August 23, 2021

    This book should go to print in honor of the authors memory and dedication to completing this book while fighting ovarian cancer.

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