As a partner in wine, I am always on the lookout for lovely little reads about the fermented grape. This time we are in Tuscany for a little sun and plonk, (how many words can you think of for wine?) as we recommend Cooking with Frenet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson.
An English Satire set in Italy
The book is a delightful and funny read that gives you a taste of the Italian sun through the satirical eyes, and recipes, of an English ghost writer. A wonderfully eclectic book that you are never quite sure where it is leading, but you enjoy the journey all the same.
There is an array of characters and nationalities that drop into our ‘hero’s’ world, disrupting, disturbing and winding him up beautifully. As he thinks quite highly of himself, in that fabulous Englishman in his castle and abroad way, you enjoy both his unusual views and his reactions to those who invade his world.
And the Frenet Branca? I had to look this up when reading the book, as I had not heard of it before. Frenet Branca is a bitter herbal liquer, often served as a digestif (after a meal), invented in the mid 19th century in Milan.
Gerald Sampler, the Englishman abroad, has a particular love for this drink and particularly likes to cook the weird and wonderful with it. A thoroughly divergent aside is the recipes for these dishes are included in the book, which sorely makes one desire to try ones hand at them. But then again… maybe not.
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