I took my time reading this ebook breezily. It definitely looked like a perfect summer read (which it is, by the way) and introduced me to Sicilian food; a little different from overtly hyped Italian dishes. Now mind you, this book may seem like a cookbook but it is so much more. In fact, author Nicky Pellegrino wanted her readers to feel like the fifth person on this culinary vacation guided by food enthusiast, Luca Amore.
Poppy, Tricia, Moll and Valerie — four women from different places, ages, jobs and personalities come together in this book to share their stories, experiences with food and adventure that follows them during their stay with Luca for eight days.
The characters are not brewed to be anything less than real. They are people with flaws, confusion, beliefs, interests and fights. Each one is unique, yet when combined together as a group they aren’t the best of friends, but they are good people wanting the best for each other.
There were times when I got irritated by Tricia’s aversion to delicious food (read-calorie cautious) but she was still her own person and I liked her strong personality. Moll was my favorite since I could relate myself to her the most.
One is hiding a secret. Another is hoping to find love again. One is desperate to escape her life; one has already managed it.
The book isn’t written from one perspective. Each character gets equal importance (including Luca) while they converse with you. Yes, every now and then, you are made to feel like the characters are saying and questioning you for advice or they simply talk to you as a member in the group, which is quite engaging. Poppy is in her thirties and freshly divorced who eats food without many woes; Tricia simply wants to escape from her mundane life for a while even though she has the least amount of interest in cooking or eating out of the four; Moll is a single mother who is most passionate about tasting the food and querying about ingredients and the procedures; Valerie indulges in food like a natural — not too serious nor too careless.
Owner of ‘The Food of Love Cookery School’, Luca Amore is a man who left his previous profession (which is interesting as the story unfolds) and returned to his hometown after the death of his beloved grandmother (Nonna) ten years ago. Since then, he has been teaching his nonna’s recipes with care, love and positivity paying attention to all his participants while they cook with him in his cookery school. His childhood friend and her father, Orsolina and Vincenzo are characters who notoriously seep in drama once in a while.
“How can one not be obsessed?” said Vincenzo. “Food is a kind of miracle Maz really, isn’t it? You take the raw ingredients, transform them in endless ways, put them in your body and eventually they become your skin, your hair, your blood. What could be more magical than that?”
Granitas, cannoli, chocolates, limoncello, cavatelli, ravioli and the list goes on where pages are peppered with Luca’s recipes inspired by his Nonna. In fact, there are three detailed recipes once you are finished reading the story. Also, the best part was reading in the end that the book was inspired by Pellegrino’s own getaway at a real cookery school in Sicily! (So glad the details of the school are mentioned if anyone is interested to join). While reading, I felt like I was basking in the summer of Sicily tasting wine and chocolate from Vincenzo Mazara’s Dolceria. The writing is light but has serious notes when required; gives you a fresh feel and enthusiasm to live life soaking in opportunities and experiences both good and bad. Thumbs up if you want to escape into the world of old houses, past secrets and traditional Sicilian cuisines by leisurely sipping a chilled glass of prosecco!