Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reading... The Wedding Officer.

I was first introduced to the writings of Anthony Capella about 18 months ago, while Mr Kitty and I were travelling around Europe on our three month honeymoon. We had arrived at our little hutch (read: tiny house) outside Florence after travelling non-stop for almost two months and this was the first place we had an entire week in the one spot. It was bliss.

As a result of slowing down our travelling pace both Mr Kitty and I got sick. Really sick. I got a really bad cold and Mr Kitty got a migraine. It happens reasonably often to us, but as a result we didn't do an awful lot in Florence this time, other than try and recuperate. I have memories of trying to find strepsils or anything that would stop me coughing and soothe my throat and being offered a Kinder Surprise by an apologetic non-English speaking supermarket employee while searching for lozenges. I know Kinder Suprises are awesome but last time I checked they aren't a cold reliever.

But I digress.

One of the luxuries of this little hutch - other than the big screen TV, swimming pool and blessed airconditioning in the blisteringly hot heat - was the library of books left by previous residents and visitors. One of the books that I read, while Mr Kitty was laying prostrate across our bed, was The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. It's one of the best food books I have ever read - the descriptions of food and the language was so evocative I found myself constantly having to eat. Like a woman posessed. I read it in a day, almost without putting it down. It's sensational. The book tells the story of Laura, a student who comes to Italy to study and who and falls in love with Tomasso, a waiter posing as a chef, but in reality she falls for the spectacular food created by Bruno, Tomasso's best friend, who loves Laura from a far. The food of Rome however, is by far and away the star of this novel and if you like food even just a little bit, I think you'll love this book.

When I noticed last week on my fortnightly trawl of Dymocks that he had written another novel, it was immediately snatched up by moi and devoured. TheWedding Officer is set in occupied Naples just after the Allies invade in 1944. British Captain James Gould arrives in Naples to take up the post of the ‘Wedding Officer’, responsible for discouraging English soldiers from marrying the local women. When he becomes rather too good at his job, the locals arrange for him to employ a recently widowed girl from a small town on the side of Mt Vesuvius called Livia Pertini as his cook, in the hopes that her remarkable skills in the kitchen – not to mention her beauty – will turn him around to their way of thinking. Under her influence and cooking tutorials, James learns to stop worrying about unimportant matters such as war brides, black marketeering, mafia corruption and so on – but when Mt Vesuvius erupts, placing Livia in grave danger, he realises that he is also going to have to make a choice between his orders and his heart.

It's a really good book - if you can get your hands on it for a reasonable price then it's definitely worth a read. Unfortunately I don't think it's as good - from a food point of view - as The Food of Love, but from a historical perspective it is absolutely awesome. He writes with such passion you honestly feel like you are in the novel, cooking with the characters. Apparently they are making the novel into a film which I'm sure will be excellent (so long as they don't make the same mistakes as they made with Captain Corelli's Mandolin, like casting Nicolas Cage).

Apparently Capella has written another book - The Various Flavours of Coffee - that I will attempt to track down and read next. In the mean time I might have to satisfy myself with reading The Food of Love again!

Available at Dymocks online for just $10.95.


1 comment:

Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh thankyou! I'm so going to look for his books now. Gotta love books that make you hungry! :D