Food, books and family presents

Cook the Books n.1 proved to be a great success with the author of La cucina, Lily Prior choosing the winner: Foodycat's Caponata, Funghi and Caciocavallo.

The roundup was posted over at the Cook the books club by Rachel, The Crispy Cook and Deb, Kahakai Kitchen.

And remaining on the subject of food and books, which are passions I share with my whole family, it does not come as a surprise that the best "good luck presents" I got for the new cookery school house were books related to food coming from relatives.

The first one was Ode To Wine by Pablo Neruda from my cousin Anna. She got me an Italian edition whit the original poems in Spanish, what a delight! My favourite poems are Oda al Pan and Oda al limòn, with Oda a las Papas Fritas (Ode to Fries) being in a category of its own.

Then my cousins from Rome, who came last September to visit, recently sent me a surpriese "Buona Fortuna box" full of books related to food to keep in the school. What a great surprise!

Aphrodite by Isabel Allende was obviously there, as my cousin Paola said: "I knew you already had your copy, but you definitely need one for the school".

There were also three Italian books, all part of a series called Leggere è un gusto!:

La Tavola delle Meraviglie. In cucina con Alice by Cristina Caneva. An homage to Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll which includes wonderful recipes inspired by the book, like Bread and Butter-fly pudding, and traditional English ones. An true inspiration for my children dedicated cooking classes.

A Tavola con Grazia. A book by Neria De Giovanni which talks about the literary role of food in the work of Grazia Deledda, the only Italian female Nobel Prize winner. A collection of excerpts related to food from Deledda's books, which are deeply rooted in her Sardinian traditions, and includes
the relative Sardinian recipes.
A similar approach is in La Luna Il Cibo e I Falò by Giovanni Casalegno. A study of the role of food in Cesare Pavese's books which includes typical recipes of Piedmont.
The "books-box" also included Mark Crick's adorable Kafka's Soup which is a history of world literature in 14 recipes where Crick describes the preparation of each dish in the style of a famous writer. My favourite? Easy for those who know me well.....Vietnamese chicken à la Graham Greene. Two reasons: he is undoubtedly my favourite author and Crick's did a superb job reproducing his style.

A book I am really curios about is Le bonheur de faire l'amour dans sa cuisine et vice-versa by Irène Frain. The book cover claims that this is a book "against the perversion of culinary trash food, to which correspond a form of trashy sex, with no eroticism or magic: a subtle and ironic invitation to rediscover the pleasure and the time to eat well, communicate and seduce." Really promising!

The last three books of the lot are novels:
Muriel Barbery's Une gourmandise (Estasi culinarie) a novel about the "Pope of Gastronomy", the greatest critic of the culinary world, and Yasmin Crowther's debut novel The Saffron Kitchen "a double portrait of a spirited mother-daughter pair, first- and second-generation immigrants to England from Iran". I have not read these two books yeat, as I immediately and passionately delved into Dark Intrigue and Cheese (Delitti e Formaggi) by Giles Milton. I am still half way through it and I am enjoying every single description of world top quality cheeses, their smells, their textures and the amazing story of the Trencom family, owners of the best cheese shop in London (if not in the world) and the history of their gifted noses.

I expressed here all my enthusiasm and gratitude for these wonderful presents. The final resolution is that of expanding the collection of food related literature alongside the general food and recipe books, which we had already started years ago, and create an enjoyable dedicated library at the cookery school.

Written on
January 14, 2009