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- Publié sur Amazon.com
I am a great admirer of Mr. Camuto's previous book, "Corkscrewed," which focused on the "natural" wine scene in France and changed the way I think about, purchase, and appreciate wine. Palmento isn't necessarily a better book, but it should appeal to an even wider audience, thanks to Mr. Camuto's passion for Sicilian history and culture as well as to its broader insights and exploration of universal themes.
In his odyssey, Mr. Camuto inevitably reaches some dead ends, both literally (not literarily) and metaphorically. (Maps and first impressions of Sicily aren't always accurate, believe it or not!) Although these diversions are entertaining enough in their own right, they are highlighted by the numerous revelations he shares as he travels the island nation in search of wine, food, people, and places that can be not only inspirational but at times even mythic - like Mt. Etna itself, where grapes are being grown and wine is being made by modern-day characters who a few thousand years ago might have inspired Homer as well.
I've chosen several passages to illustrate how this book rises above being just another celebration of wine, although that's not an unworthy endeavor in itself:
"Wasn't it all related? Land, agriculture, exploitation, urbanization, the Mafia, were all part of Siciliy's sad and confounding history."
"To me there is no more important distinction in the wine world than between those who view land as a possession or a factory and those who care for it intimately."
"Biondi made no money from wine and seemed not to care. He was driven by other things: the footprints of his ancestors, the land that made him not want to build buildings, the black eruption carved into a phallus of a talisman, and the scent of a goddess of the night."
"I was thinking of how much more fragile existence was for most of us Westerners--dependent not on the soil and its seasons, but on money and sophisticated systems created to keep it circulating."
"I was beginning to see that passito is, as the name suggests, all about the passage of time: the lateness of the harvest, the weeks the grapes spent baking in the sun, and its years of aging. Unlike most wines that absorbed time haltingly and unevenly, passito seemed time's perfect reflection. If you knew it well enough, I figured, you could set your watch to it."
"The route we took was an all-too-typical Sicilian juxtaposition of beauty and squalor: the desolateness of Santo Stefano was followed by a spontaneous trash dump, a shepherd grazing his flock on weeds and trash, and the open wound of a cement plant just before we got to the road along the sea."
"There it was again: the sweeping verbal gesture magnified in the prism of Sicily, the pronouncement so poetic it nullified any arguments before they could take their first breath. The vines, the amphorae, the thousands of years of history, the palmenti, the volcano--the beauty and power of it all. In Italy, of course, beauty is next to holiness. Sicily was long the most treasured daughter of the Mediterranean. So who can teach Sicily anything about beauty?"
"'It is like a village or a city here,' Foti said. `Some of the vines are young, some are old, some are more intelligent, and others more stupid.'"
Some reviewers have said that reading Palmento has moved them to include Sicily in their immediate travel plans. I feel the same motivation; but even if I never go, I will still be searching for what is "Sicilian" in the rest of the world.