Is this the world’s most expensive cookbook?

 Pizza from ScratchIt is not unusual for old and rare cookbooks to fetch handsome prices. Even some new cookbooks, like the multi-volume set of Modernist Cuisine, cost several hundred dollars. However, a recently released tome about pizza may be setting a record for the most expensive new cookbook. The extremely limited edition Pizza from Scratch (available through the NYC bookstore Kitchen Arts & Letters) is selling for a whopping $2,400 USD.

Pizza from Scratch is no ordinary book. Only 40 copies have been produced, and each one is handmade by artist David Esselmont. Esselmont’s current passion for food and cooking have lead to a string of “food” books – visual narratives that include  Pizza from Scratch Taxi Driver Curry and his prize-winning  Chili: a recipe

For his latest work, Esselmont tells the story, in woodcuts and linocuts, of how he literally grew a pizza on his farm in rural Iowa. Wholly embracing the farm-to-table movement, he grows wheat, garlic, tomatoes and basil; designs and builds an adobe clay oven (scale plans are included in the book); gives instructions on how to make the dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese; fire up the oven, assemble the pizza and cook it.  “There is something magical about cooking in a wood-fired oven: the rolling flames, searing heat and tantalizing aromas are quixotic. If you’ve grown the ingredients, and harvested the tomatoes and basil that afternoon – the flavors will be out of this world,” he says. 

Each of the 40 copies is hand printed from the original blocks. There are thirty-six images in the book, plus the plans for the pizza oven. Five volumes were bound in goatskin and have already been sold (for $4,800 USD each). All the images are available separately as individual prints. Printed in editions of no more than fifty copies they vary in price from $120 to $700.  You can learn more about the book at Kitchen Arts & Letters, and at the author’s website

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