Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beach Reading: Eat Pray Love

Ok, I bought “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert in Milan, not on the beach of a Greek island. I’d finished everything I’d brought and needed something for the flight home back to Detroit.

The book is divided into three parts, as the title suggests, and moves from Italy to India to Bali. (I’m sure you can guess which section was my favorite.) It was a quick, enjoyable read that integrated the author’s personal story with what she learned about each culture, cuisine and the religious practices.

Food is the focus of the first third of the book. One of my favorite scenes was when she is given advice about where to eat pizza in Naples:

But he is Neapolitan, no question about it, because before I left Rome he gave me the name of a pizzeria Naples that I had to try, because, Giovanni informed me, it sold the best pizza in Naples. I found this a wildly exciting prospect, given that the best pizza in Italy is from Naples, and the best pizza in the world is from Italy, which means that this pizzeria must offer … I’m almost too supersticious to say it … the best pizza in the world? Giovanni passed along the name of the place with such seriousness and intensity, I almost felt I was being inducted into a secret society. He pressed the address into the palm of my hand and said, in gravest confidence, “Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me later and tell me that you did.”

I’ve been teaching memoir and writing memoir recently, so I was interested in reading a more popular book that will soon be a movie. (Watch the trailer.) Its success lies in the very personable narrative, the author herself, and the foreign experiences she shares frankly with the reader. The tone is conversational and entertaining.

If you are interested in writing memoir, food related or not, or are a beginning poet, you might be interested in my upcoming online creative writing workshops this summer.

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