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Book Review

Tuesday, 15 September, 2009 12:17 PM

'Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons: Travels in Sicily on a Vespa' is a good cookbook

Book cover: media.us.macmillan.com

"Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons: Travels in Sicily on a Vespa"

by Garrett Godwin
ggodwin82@yahoo.com

 

There are two books that I've been reading this summer: The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure by Catherine Hickland and Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons: Travels in Sicily on a Vespa by British chef Matthew Fort. Fort takes us on his trip to Sicily, Italy, as he rides his scooter to try out the latest dish morning, noon, and night -- meeting interesting people along the way that shares his company as well as a love for food, family, and community.

It is a cookbook that contains recipes of the most unique meals made on the other side of this world, so if you're ready for spaghetti or pasta with a twist (like squid or octopus, for instance), know Italian, and have a strong stomach, then this is the book for you. This is also a diary, as Fort compares the time he spent in Italy with his brother back in 1973 and his recent return, as he also explores the world of Sicilians, which has been stereotyped thanks to films such as The Godfather trilogy, and though organized crime continues to exist, Fort explains he's not on a mission for justice nor trying to be a crusader, but understanding their way of life, which includes philosophical and soulful quotes like these on pages 116 and 118:

"Poverty of every kind encloses the human spirit, turns it inwards. All choices are restricted to the point where there are none. Nothing is left but personal pessimism or fatalism, and acceptance of the will of others. But such is the energy of the human spirit, it seemed to me, that these people without hope, without choices, had found self-expression through personal and family loyalties, through criminality and subtle, almost abstract subversions of the conventional world. I was beginning to think that food was among these visible signs of collective resistance.

"Above all, history was in the people, both in their kindliness and their opacity, in their generosity and obliqueness. If you have been occupied, dominated, and exploited for 3000 years, I suppose you learn to supress direct expresssion of your natural instincts, open discourse and individual behavior. It teaches you to be watchful, wary, to be careful, to have regard. It teaches you to listen, to be aware of the mental, emotional and social processes of your occupiers. And it teaches you how to survive - more, how to work with them, how to manipulate them, how to coax and cajole, how to insinuate, how to achieve your ends by other means, without upsetting your lords and masters along the way. It breeds a subtlety of intellect and a suppleness of manner, a judicious realism, a clarity of judgement as to why and how people do things. Sicilians have few illuisions."

Quotes like these can really make us think, especially since we're in an recession, and fantasizing that we're in Italy walking in Fort's shoes -- experiencing life like no one else has before and getting something out if it in the process, which may include finding ourselves and knowing them a little bit more.

Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons is available on your local bookstores right now.

 

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.

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