From Publishers Weekly
From its opening scene of an impromptu alfresco village feast of fried zucchini blossoms, fennel-roasted pork, and pudding made from the cream of a local blue-eyed cow, this memoir of the seasons in a small Tuscan village is rich with food, weather, romance and, above all, life. De Blasi continues the adventures begun in her A Thousand Days in Venice
, as she and her husband, Fernando, leave Venice for Tuscany in search of "a place that still remembers real life... sweet and salty... each side of life dignifying the other." Fortunately, the two are adopted by Barlozzo, an elderly local eager to share his knowledge of the old ways. He introduces them to the local customs: grape harvesting, truffle hunting, bread baking, etc. Although the book teems with food references, including recipes for intriguing traditional dishes, de Blasi is more than a sunny regional food writer—she digs into the meaning of life. As she fights Fernando's periodic depressions and brings him back to joy, gains Barlozzo's trust and love, learns his troubling lifelong secrets and comes to terms with the death of a beloved friend, she immerses her readers in life's poignancy, brevity and wonder.
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Readers who enjoyed de Blasi's earlier work, A Thousand Days in Venice
(2002), may be startled that the author has moved from Venice to Tuscany. Still much in love with the man for whom she left everything, de Blasi embarks on an idyllic, if hardworking, Tuscan life. The couple purchases an old farmhouse and is chagrined that it's not conveyed in the condition promised. Their neighbors welcome them to the community with a groaning board featuring all manner of Tuscan foods and capped off with a dessert that only hours earlier had been milked from a "blue-eyed" cow. As in her earlier work, most chapters close with recipes, ranging in complexity from braised pork stew that serves as both a pasta sauce and an entree to simple bruschetta, toasted bread topped with local olive oil. Thanks to de Blasi's style of rendering conversations first in Italian, then English, a careful reader can quickly pick up some useful conversational Italian. Mark KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved