What I'm Reading: A Thousand Days in Tuscany

At times, I wish I could be transported somewhere far away. Somewhere where the simplest observances of daily life become noticeable and interesting again. Typically, this requires visiting a culture different from my own- that's where travel literature comes in to play. With in moments of opening the pages you can be picking grapes in the hills of Tuscany or climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi, my latest travel lit find, is one that not only satisfies my desire for travel but also my love of food. In the novel, De Blasi chronicles the seasons of her life with her Italian husband after they move from Venice to San Casciano dei Bagni, a province of Siena, Italy.
Shortly after their move, the couple meets Barlozzo, a rustic, Italian character whose daily visits give the reader a peek into the Italian mindset and way of life. The Duke, as he is referred to, also teaches the De Blasies how food is foraged for and prepared in Tuscany. He helps them build their own brick oven for baking bread, pick grapes and chestnuts and even wild greens and truffles. Things you couldn't even imagine doing in suburban America. 

What struck me most about this novel was the beautiful, vivid descriptions of the rustic food De Blasi prepares. Not only could you easily prepare the dish after reading the paragraph but you could almost hear, smell and taste it.  If you're looking for more direction, she graciously provides formal recipes between most chapters. 
By Guido Barberis
Like all good novels, A Thousand Days in Tuscany is not short on romance. You experience the ups and downs in her relationship with her husband as well as the tender love the Duke has for his long time sweetheart. The novel also provides lessons here and there in the origins of some Italian and English words- such as compagna, or companion from con, with, and pane, bread. A person with whom we break bread. It's amazing how learning something so simple can be fascinating and eye-opening.

If you loved Under the Tuscan Sun, you will love the brilliant cultural and gastronomic descriptions De Blasi pours onto every page of this book. Looking for more to read? Visit her Amazon page here for more travel writing and cookbooks. 


Brian S. said...

You should read this book! I have read it several times and it is fascinating!!! Brian


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