Cucina Paradiso: The Heavenly Food of Sicily
Clifford A. Wright, Author Simon & Schuster $24.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-76926-0
Researched by Middle East scholar and food enthusiast Wright, this fascinating volume clarifies the mystifying distinction between the cooking of Sicily and other regions of Italy. The reason for the distinction – as he convincingly presents it – was the medieval conquest of Sicily by Arabs whose “culture remained there intact for four hundred years.” According to Wright, the Arabs are responsible for, among other things, the creation of the Sicilian “one-pot” meal, a “fondness for stuffed foods.. shared by the Sicilians,” and the introduction of rice, of which “some food writers even argue that the famous Risotto alla Milanese is an Arab-Sicilian invention transplanted north.” The resulting collection of recipes reflects Sicily’s exotic heritage and includes a mint-infused, Arab-style penne, grilled beef rolls with pecorino, currants and pine nuts and watermelon pudding studded with semisweet chocolate bits, pistachios and candied orange peel. This suggestive study of “the food Sicilians call cucina arabo-sicula” decorously removes another delicious layer of Italy’s riches.
Peter Robb, Author Faber & Faber $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-571-19932-7
This is not a travel book, but rather a sophisticated attempt to make sense of the on-going prosecution of the 78-year-old seven-time prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, and of the intimate ties between the mafia and postwar Italian politics. An Australian by birth, Robb is not just parachuting in to gawk at the corruption that traded in votes, money, government contracts and even assassinations. A longtime resident of Naples, Robb adeptly puts the elusive world of organized crime (both Neapolitan and Sicilian) in a historical context that stretches back to the 19th century. In Sicily, however, organized crime is not an isolated institution and its pervasiveness is suggested by Robb’s brilliant interweaving of writers such as Leonardo Sciascia, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Pier Paolo Pasolini and the artist Renato Guttuso. Many artists saw a connection between the rich food of Sicily and the mob, which Robb expertly exploits, even repeating an ironic quote from Andreotti himself: “I found myself with my stomach full of marvelous but terrible food, the pasta con le sarde, the cassata and not only did I not understand a thing there but I was ill too. I wonder whether there’s a connection between food like this and the growth of the mafia.” Those who treasured Excellent Cadavers, Alexander Stille’s magnificent study of magistrates Giovanni Falcone, Paolo Borsellino and the mafia “maxitrial,” will appreciate Robb’s epic story of evil and nobility.
Conversations in Sicily
by Elio Vittorini, Alane Salierno Mason (Translator), Ernest Hemingway (Foreword)
It stands as a modern classic not only for its powerful thematic resonance as one of the great novels of Italian anti-fascism but also as a trailblazer for its style, which blends literary modernism with the pre-modern fable in a prose of lyric beauty. Comparing Vittorini’s work to Picasso’s, Italo Calvino described Conversations as “the book-Guernica.”
The novel begins at a time in the narrator’s life when nothing seems to matter; whether he is reading newspaper posters blaring of wartime massacres, lying in bed with his wife or girlfriend, or flipping through the pages of a dictionary it is all the same to him—until he embarks on a journey back to Sicily, the home he has not seen in some fifteen years. In traveling through the Sicilian countryside and in variously hilarious and tragic conversations with its people—his indomitable mother in particular—he reconnects with his roots and rediscovers some basic human values.
In the introduction Hemingway wrote for the American debut of Conversations (published as In Sicily by New Directions in 1949) he remarked: “I care very much about Vittorini’s ability to bring rain with him when he comes, if the earth is dry and that is what you need.” More recently, American critic Donald Heiney wrote that in this one book, Vittorini “like Rabelais and Cervantes…adds a new artistic dimension to the history of literature.”
Venere e il drago. Il libro dell’arte
La storica dell’arte Amyel Garnaoui racconta ai ragazzi le tele di Simone Martini, Gentile da Fabriano, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Sandro Botticelli, Piero di Cosimo, Leonardo da Vinci e Caravaggio.
I quadri sono presenze vive: ci parlano e ci chiedono di essere ammirati e interrogati come veri “amici con le cornici”.
Based on extensive research including original interviews, primary source documents, and eyewitness and family contributions, this new book is the most complete and authoritative work on the man and his family.
Have you seen George Clooney’s movie, The Monuments Men? Salvatore Cartaino Scarpitta was a real Monuments Man. He made monuments! His famous artist son, Salvatore Scarpitta, Jr., was one of the Monuments Men as honored in George Clooney’s Monuments Men movie. His father was a world renowned sculptor who made his home in Hollywood, California.
Some are already saying that this new book, a true story, is even more exciting than The Monuments Men. You will read of the true adventures of Salvatore, Sr., only some of which include stowing away aboard ships, crossing deserts, and sculpting the quintessential life sized statue of the famous Marlene Dietrich used in the movie, Song of Songs. Among other remarkable works, he constructed the figures at the entrance to the Los Angeles County-USC Hospital, which, at the time of its construction, was the largest county hospital in the country. Salvatore’s son, Sal, Jr., worked as part of the Monuments Men in Italy. While working as a Monuments Man, his son actually saved his own father’s work!
Why would his father, Salvatore, Sr., intentionally destroy a two story monument he had spent years constructing? Find out in the pages of this new book. Here is a man who loved his adopted country, America. He was an adventurer in life and in the passion of love. You must hear this true story of the adventures of Salvatore Scarpitta! The book is coming soon!
Concetta was born on the beautiful Island of Sicily in 1939. She grew up in a small village called Mazzarra S. Andrea, on the northern coast of Sicily which is situated at the foot of one of Sicily’s many mountains. She is the sixth child of a family consisting of nine children. Married in 1957, she moved to England with her husband and first child in 1960, and was then blessed with another two children to fill her life. She has lived in and around the picturesque University town of Cambridge for the past 49 years, and although England is her home now, Sicily is never far from her thoughts and she visits her native home every year. Concetta enjoys reading action adventure books, Colin Forbes being one of her favourite Authors. She also likes spending time writing her stories, eating the fruits and watching the wildlife in her garden. But most of all, she enjoys the company of her seven grandchildren.