If there is one book that belongs
on the shelf of Sicilian food lovers, it is Pomp and Sustenance.
This book is a classic, the definitive work on Sicilian cooking. And
it is crammed with authentic, hard to find recipes gleaned from the
author's friends, family and acquaintances on the island of Sicily itself.
Author Mary Taylor Simeti, an American
married to a Sicilian, set herself to the discovery of Sicilian food.
She haunted former convents and palaces where Palermo's libraries have
been maintained. She tested each ancient recipe herself and updated
the methods. Her directions are written in a clear, easy to follow fashion.Though the subtitle indicates the
historical sweep of the book, Simeti has organized the material to reflect
both the external influences of a series of conquerors, and the domestic
changes brought about by peasant, clergy and aristocrat alike. Her chapter
titles hint at the enticing discoveries waiting for the reader:
- One: Of Ancient Abundance, Epic
- Two: The Gardens of Paradise
- Three: The Staff of l Life .
- Four: . . . And the Stuff of
- Five: Princes, Priests, and Not
So Humble Friars
- Six: Virgins' Breast, Chancellor's
Buttocks, and Other Convent Delicacies
- Seven: Street Fare
- Eight: I Scream, You Scream,
We All Scream for Ice Cream
The recipes reflect the chapter
titles. There are recipes using the vegetable abundance of the Sicilian
landscape, for ice cream or granita, and, yes there are recipes for
Virgins Breasts and Chancellor's Buttocks.The book contains more than a hundred
illustrations from Sicilian archives and museums and the text quotes
freely from Homer, Plato, Apicius, Lampedusa, Pirandello, and Carlo
Simeti's prose is so descriptive
that to read Pomp and Sustenance is to be in Sicily. And if you
are in Sicily, you want to eat. Dive into the luscious recipes enclosed
in these pages.