I grew up eating. A lot. As the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher said, "First we eat, then we do everything else." That describes my childhood home. In my mind, my Italian grandmother, Mama Rose, was always cooking. We lived with her in the house she moved to with her parents when they came from Conca Della Compania, a small, mountainous town an hour and a world away from Naples, Italy, to West Warwick, Rhode Island. When I was young, Mama Rose and her mother Nonna, kept an enormous garden in the backyard, and they would sit on summer afternoons and snap the ends off string beans (served cold with garlic and mint), press tomatoes into sauce, pickle red and green peppers for the Christmas antipasto. We had fruit trees - Seckel pear, cherry, apple, fig - and blueberry and raspberry bushes. They raised rabbits and chickens too. More than once a beloved white bunny - Snowball, Snowflake, Snowy - disappeared from its cage only for us to have funny-tasting "chicken" that night at dinner.
Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food
by Ann Hood
After discovering Ann Hood earlier this winter through her nonfiction book, Morningstar: Growing Up With Books, I couldn't wait to read her newest title... especially after several blogging friends rated it highly. My library hold finally arrived and I started reading last night. This is already shaping up to be another winner.
Here's the goodreads summary:
From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock.
Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay The Golden Silver Palate, she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie.
With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.
What do you think? Are you tempted to continue?
First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.