Flour, water, yeast, and salt: that's all, four simple ingredients that Italians turn into breads in hundreds of shapes. Tuscans eat it saltless. Milanesi go for a roll as empty as a popover. Ligurians dimple the dough with olive oil, call it focaccia, and eat it for lunch, dinner, and any time in between.
It's the country's Ur food, which makes me wonder how anyone can seriously try to copyright a recipe for bread. And yet....I was surprised and not unhappy to come upon an article in The Atlantic saying "Since The Italian Baker was published in 1985, I have watched several of Carol Field's recipes and techniques for previously unknown Italian breads spread across the land like the sloppy, barely yeasted, unmanageably wet doughs that, as her book taught, result in the lightest, best flavored bread. She's barely credited, of course."
And even happier to read on: "An early Field adherent has long been my favorite baker in New York" (mine too, I admit): "Jim Lahey, who opened the Sullivan Street Bakery in 1994 selling breads that no one in the city had made before."
Skullduggery and thievery didn't stop Lahey from inventing a revolutionary no-knead technique while I am happy to be back in the bread game with a new edition of The Italian Baker with some extremely wet doughs and a starter to tantalize a new generation or two.