Patrizia Chen’s childhood was suffused with the scent of simmering pots of cacciucco — a local, hearty seafood stew — and of the pittosporum blooming along the Tuscan coast. Her family’s house and sumptuous garden in the Italian seaside town of Livorno are at the center of this captivating book that weaves together simple, delicious recipes with a love of home, family, nature, custom, and, above all, food.
The family cook, Emilia, a feisty, temperamental woman from a nearby fishing village, dutifully produces bland white dishes for every family meal, as dictated by Patrizia’s grandfather. But behind the kitchen door it’s a different story. One day seven-year-old Patrizia is led by a wonderful smell into the kitchen, where Emilia is preparing a spicy red sauce bursting with garlic and onion. With one bite, Patrizia becomes hooked. In the spacious, sun-drenched kitchen and adjoining herb garden, Emilia takes Patrizia under her wing, disclosing the secrets of her favorite Tuscan dishes.
Through vivid descriptions and charming anecdotes, Chen brings to life the white Carrara marble terraces, the coal-burning stoves, antique roses, and sacks of chestnut flour that fill the family house, kitchen, and garden. This delightful and evocative narrative will welcome you into the heart of Patrizia’s Tuscan home and allow you to bring the robust flavors of Emilia’s cooking into your own kitchen.