I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is April 19, 2016.
This enchantingly warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad, where a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean. It is all thanks to a surprising romance, a new passion for food, and a spirited woman who will become her mother-in-law—and teach her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love.
If there is one thing I enjoy more than books set in Italy, it’s books that have a lot of FOOD! And this book has that in spades. I have been living in Naples, Italy for almost two years now and I was interested in this author’s opinion of the city. The author is an American who initially came to Naples while in college for a year abroad. Naturally, she ended up falling in love with the city and a Neapolitan man. She ends up moving to Naples permanently and she gets married and has two children with this man.
Her impressions of Naples are dead on. There are so many things about the Italian culture (but especially the Neapolitans) that are different from the American culture and she has to adapt. As an American, I can certainly relate to her confusion. Italy is great and Italians are great, but there is a certain amount of culture shock. Yes, Naples is chaotic and crazy and dirty, but it’s also pretty amazing. All of the author’s stories are interwoven with stories about her mother-in-law’s cooking and holy crap, this book will make you hungry. Italians relate to each other through food. Food is sacred to them, as it is to me. My mouth watered at all the Italian dishes: the Neapolitan pizza (BEST pizza ever), pasta al forno, baked meatballs, lasagne, gelato alla nocciola (hazelnut gelato and for those who aren’t aware, it’s also the BEST flavor!), eggplant parmigiana . . . . ahhhh, I’m drooling right now. Seriously drooling. The author even included a few of her mother-in-law’s precious recipes at the end. Awesome, right?
I laughed at her experience with an Italian butcher and the fact that she eventually went to an Italian grocery store and just bought the prepackaged stuff. I buy 85% of my groceries from the Italians (the other 15% of items are American things I can’t buy at the Italian supermarkets, so I shop at the American grocery store on the Navy base here). I have been to an Italian butcher only a couple of times and I am trying to go more, but it can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. I also learned a few new things. The reason why Italians don’t sell peanut butter (but you CAN buy a jar of Nutella the size of your head) is because they consider peanuts to be low class. Ha. I don’t even care, I eat tons of it anyway (that is one of the things I buy on base). Apparently, Italians consider pistachios to be the noblest of nuts, followed by the hazelnut and the cashew.
There was just so much here that I loved. It was funny and sweet and I want to be adopted by an Italian family! They loved each other so much. The author talks a lot about the differences and her experiences as an American trying to adapt to these crazy, but lovable, Italians. Then she has kids and she had to realize that her kids would be brought up a bit differently from her because, you know, they are Italian too. At some point, the author and her husband move to Rome and she talks about the differences between Rome and Napes. YES, there are MANY! This was such an awesome book that will give people some insight about life in Naples, as well as life with a huge Italian family and it will make you hungry with all the food!
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!