I can't recall how I found this book but I think my fingers hit "add to cart" before my brain could even form up the idea that maybe this was something I wanted. I've referred once before to the Italians in my genetic line.
From that post on the Epiphany....
My grandfather was born in Sicily and immigrated to America, via Ellis Island, on what the family affectionately called a "banana boat". I'm not sure of the origin of that expression, nor why we felt affectionate about it, but certainly my grandfather was very proud of becoming an American and never taught his children to speak Italian. It was from my grandfather, Epiphani Siciliano that I first identified my love of growing vegetables. He had a huge vegetable patch and orchard at his home in rural Massachusettes and I remember as a young girl (primary school, we immigrated to Australia when I was in Grade 5 so it was sometime around 8, 9 years old) thinking his garden was fantastic. I probably wasn't old enough to think "I want to have a garden like that" but somehow it doesn't surprise me that I now do (though his was way bigger than mine and he owned the land...but still...no point spoiling a good reminisce).
In the basement of my grandparent's house in Leominster, Massachusettes was a cupboard with jars and jars of preserved fruits and vegetables. When we visited we were allowed to go downstairs and choose a jar of fruit for breakfast or to eat with ice cream. My grandfather loved ice cream. Perhaps we even had it for breakfast!
This decorative lady from the past in no way resembles anyone living or dead in my family. She is purely a work of fiction and imagination. The preserves though were real. My grandmother's cupboards looked exactly like this in my memory. All these years later, I have a new (and by my standards) big pantry but it is nothing on the scale of my grandmother's wonderful basement.
Still, I have laid down some preserves from last summer. And maybe this coming season I can use this book to add to my repetoire. The author is a chap from Melbourne who has a website and it's worth having a bit of a peak, if you're interested. The book is fantastic. It covers a wide range of topics from the standard preserving-the-tomato-harvest, to some rarer items - like olives and fish and cheese and salami. Its a treasure trove of Italian eating.
There's even instructions on how to build a pizza oven! Go on. You know you want one.
But seriously, you have to read the bit about how to deal with the 'evil eye'. Who knew that so much ill fortune could be explained and solved by olive oil, garlic, prayers, salt and other bits of Southern Italian advice. So from the book..."When you hear that someone has said something envious of you, you can make 'Le Corna' ('the Devil's horns'), with your index and little fingers. Note: this is not an excuse for anyone to make the other sort of Corna, unfaithfulness to your partner". There you are. Food for the body and the soul - Italian traditions, as recorded by a contemporary Melbourne doctor. The story of the great waves of immigration continue and echo around the globe.