Italian Spices: A Memoir (Paperback)
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This is a story of family love over long distance. At age 12 the author had no idea of what to expect when she left Manchester, NH for a 16 hour propeller flight out of Boston eventually landing in Rome, Italy where she would live for 3 months. This is a story of surprises, adjustments and growth which partly imitates her immigrant mother’s trajectory as a war-bride first arriving in the US right after WWII. It is also the story of strong bonding between cousins and the gifts of her Italian cousin, Elena, as her life ended prematurely.
Who should read this book?
Initially written from the perspective of a 12 year old the story unfolds with humor and the curiosity you would find in most young people. It is actually an excellent book for any first time visitor to Italy or a seasoned traveler wishing a fresh view. It helps prepare the reader for the art, the history and the ruins as though they were among the first to discover these miracles.
This book demonstrates how the heart of a family and the heart of a culture are never far removed from food. Early in the book the author describes her first meal with family in Rome and how it had moments of both confusion and joy. How she had to overcome certain very American prohibitions regarding cuisine and conquer her New England stiffness regarding vino. Food takes the family through many occasions and the author describes how her mother helped woo her prospective husband by providing him with the largest potatoes at the meal and the most delicate pastas and sauces. Joyous repasts appear throughout the book.
Although the book begins in Rome in 1960 it spans 50 years of travel to and visitors from Italy. It takes you on the author’s searches to find some of her cousins who had disappeared from her life following the loss of their mother who was linked to Gina. Thus regions around central Italy are explored with trips to Venice, Florence, Naples and on to Pompeii. Eventually cousins are reunited in Sicily which is a great adventure with Etna pouring out magma in the background. Sicily is more ancient than even Rome and shows much of Greek architecture and, of course, wonderful meals!
Family visits to the States engendered great excitement here. Gina would cook for weeks in preparation freezing all she could for ease of final preparation when the visitors were with her. The author and her husband would arrange for the best local explorations and even obtained extra tickets so Elena and Ezio could experience the authors family’s favorite sport UCONN basket ball. They loved the fact that the women’s coach was Geno Auriemma. They were proud that he was so important in America.
And when Elena was very ill my last weeks with her were spent learning her special recipes. We joked she was the brains and I was the body who could chop things and put them together as she instructed. Much of the advise on Italian cooking came from her and Ezio as well as, of course, from my mother.
About the Author
Cynthia Herbert (Bruschi) Adams was born in Vermont, raised in New Hampshire and spent her adult life in Connecticut and Rhode Island. She holds the title of Professor Emerita from the University of Connecticut and was a licensed psychologist. She is the author of numerous research articles, academic papers and textbooks. This is her first attempt at writing for general audiences. Cindy briefly lived in Italy as a child and has enjoyed many return visits with her family. She resides in Connecticut with her husband, Roger and their dog, Dougal.
"Italian Spices: A Memoir is a richly peopled travelogue and a tasty appreciation of Italian home cooking. In the book, author Cindy Adams connects the story of her mother, a much in love, young war bride who immigrates to the US to be with her GI husband at the close of World War II with her own quest to know and understand her mother’s people and culture." ~Staubach