Friday, June 23, 2006

Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson

If you’ve ever had a love-hate relationship with your neighbor, if you ever thought that Frances Mayes’ vision of expatriate Italy was a little too precious, if you enjoy novels with unusual recipes, and you enjoy Odd Couple comedies then this is the book for you! Gerald Sampson, who buys a villa in Tuscany, is a snobby Brit who ghostwrites books for sports stars and fancies himself an experimental cook—and he does experiment—with cat, otter and like the title says, lots of the herbal spirit, fernet branca! He even whips up a concoction called Alien Pie—but you’ll just have to discover that for yourself! His neighbor Marta is from the fictitious ex-Soviet country of Voynovia where her father is a Mob boss and is in Italy to work on a film score. Gerald and Marta get on each other’s nerves from day one—but the real comedy is in the fact that you get the story from both of them, and they each have a different version to tell! This is an oddball comedy that is a real send-up of running off the Italy for the good life!

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