In this delightful, moving novel, Peter Pezzelli brings to life the earthy sensuality of Italy’s Abruzzo region— the smell of just-baked bread wafting through the village piazza; the shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalks first thing in the morning; groups of cyclists dotting the mountain roads—and spins a story of May-December romance as sharp and delicious as the olives of Villa San Giuseppe.
This light, lively book offers hilarious anecdotes about the author and her husband’s trip to visit his family in Abruzzo and finally their escape to Tuscany. Her own expectations were shattered when she embarked on la dolce vita. She envisioned drinking unforgettable Brunello by candlelight and discussing art and history with elegant dinner guests. Instead, dinner discussions revolved around how to avoid a “bad wind,” whether the Mafia runs IKEA, and bizarre theories on why the Chinese in Italy never have funerals. Now she drinks Zio’s own “unforgettable,” almost undrinkable, wine, as he pays long-winded tributes to the vile liquid as if it were an elixir of the gods. Celebrate with our author—for mere mortals, or their livers, could not have lived to tell the tale. The author’s open, sympathetic viewpoint captures the characters’ quirky charm and the local color. If we could regard the most sinister carabinieri and the most self-important consulate employee with sympathetic amusement and not anger, that would be an accomplishment worth imitating. The author can laugh at her own expense, a rare quality. Follow her unlikely adventures as she’s reduced to tears by crazy-making Italian bureaucrats and tries to find work as a truffle telemarketer. You will encounter elderly aunts climbing trees, pyromaniac septuagenarians, and all sorts of “fowl” play.
Forte e Gentile, strong and kind, is the motto of Abruzzo, the Italian province east of Rome that stretches from the towering Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Anna Teresa Callen, in Food and Memories of Abruzzo, is most engaging as she shares stories of her life and presents the varied food of this little-known part of Italy where she grew up and still spends much of her time. Callen composes a symphony of sounds and aromas to surround the recipes in this memoir-cum-cookbook, describing how her grandmother, cutting pasta for pastina “into tiny dots, made a tic-tac sound with her knife,” and recounting how the “pungent smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen” woke her from her daily summer siesta. Old photos from family albums add to Callen’s vivid memories. Using Callen’s recipes, you can recreate Maccheroni alla Chitarra, the Abruzzese “square spaghetti” some Italian restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere now serve, and robust Porchetta, sublimely succulent spit-roasted pork served with its crackling, mahogany skin, as well as the colorful fish stew Brodetto di Pesce, which her father used to make, and L’sagne, a flour-and-water pasta unique to Abruzzo. In a balancing act, Callen gives recipes for simple dishes perfect for today’s cooks along with more complicated regional specialties and spectacular holiday dishes. Her guidance for making La Cicerchiata, an ancient dessert made for Mardi Gras by assembling honey-soaked “chick peas” of fried dough, whole almonds, and candied fruit into a colorful ring, is as clear as her directions for Mozzarella all’Erbette, a combination of sliced cheese dressed with a puree of fresh herbs and capers that can be put together in minutes.
Amazon Reader’s Review: ‘The late Ignazio Silone, the author of Bread and Wine, stated that he “would willingly pass [his] life writing and rewriting the same book — that one book which every writer carries within him, the image of his own soul…” Bread and Wine is just that — a beautiful reflection of a man’s soul. Using humor, easy language and insights into the Italian fascist regime, Silone tells the story of all humanity’s search for truth. In the figure of Pietro Spina, a Socialist political activist, the reader is led to ask questions about politics, relationships, and faith. The irony is that Spina has just returned from exile and must remain incognito — as a priest, of course. Through his experiences, he asks many difficult questions about his Socialist party, his church, and himself. In the end, he is left to bring together who he is as the “priest” Don Paolo and who he was as the anti-political activist Pietra Spina. He must learn to “let the inner and the outer man meet” (Plato).’
The classic saga of fascist Italy, in one volume for the first time. The desolate, impoverished mountain region of the Abruzzo during Mussolini’s reign provides the backdrop for the three greatest novels of Ignazio Silone, one of the century’s most important writers. Bread and Wine introduces the antifascist Pietro Spina, who pretends to be a priest but is reluctantly forced to honor the spiritual obligations of his role. The political fable Fontamara shows villagers battling landowners over water. The Seed Beneath the Snow continues Pietro Spina’s story. Together, these revolutionary works create an indelible image of ordinary people struggling against overwhelming events. “One of the most truly . . . significant writers of our time.” – The Nation