Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Rosemary and Bitter Oranges - Patrizia Chen

Rosemary and Bitter Oranges        Two covers here, the UK paperback is the top picture of peaches in a wooden bowl, and the American version seems to be the picture of Patrizia as a child with a little branch of rosemary (which I prefer myself).  Patrizia Chen tells the story of her childhood in a house with it's own cook, Emilia, who taught her recipes that never appeared in the family dining room;  her granfather disliking "peasant food" and opted for dishes that were white (or at least pale) and graceful.  When the author describes how she found out about the other kind of food, how to prepare it, how to cook it - I found my mouth watering!   A large house with garden in the middle of Livorno, on the coast of Italy, was her home, castle and playground, in the years following WW2.  Cooking and growing up are knitted together beautifully in this short (242 pages) book and if you don't read the recipes it won't take long to read.  But do read them! The tomato sauce is very similar to one that is cooked in this house over and over again for spaghetti; the aubergine and celery dish served at room temperature is something I've never heard of but want to taste, and perhaps a coffee granita with a sweet roll for breakfast?  Things change, we grow up, but good food is good food and stays in the memory for ever.