If you have a cook on your list, or one of those people who drool over recipes and collect cookbooks the way some people collect Wade figurines, then run, don't walk, over to Powell's Books for Home and Garden on Hawthorne. There you can get The Silver Spoon, the encyclopedia of Italian cooking, in its first English translation on sale for just over $25, more than a third off of its usual $40 price tag.
Originally published in the 1950s in Italy, this book has been continuously updated and is considered one of the primary sources for all foods Italian. Want to know how to cook a calf's head? How about something called "pluck and lights"? Or more day-to-day options like risotto (26 recipes), peas (25 recipes, not counting recipes for baby peas) or lemon (37 recipes)?
There are only a few sale copies left, so don't put this one on the back burner. I can't wait to get started. Now all I have to do is figure out how to approach it. Alphabetically? By main ingredient? The old close-your-eyes-open-the-book-and-point? Hmmmmmm.
Details: The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press at Powell's Books for Home and Garden, 3747 SE Hawthorne; Phone 503-235-3802.