Cooking with Fernet Branca - James Hamilton-Paterson After you've read too many lovely, wish-you-were-here travel memoirs & foodie books, Cooking with Fernet Branca is the amusing & biting antidote. I thoroughly enjoyed this parody & it had me literally laughing out loud at times. I'd give it 3.5 stars overall; I'll round it up to 4 stars because it made me laugh out loud when reading at Starbucks.

P.S. Don't read this book while eating... for two reasons.
1) You may choke on your food from laughing.
2) The included 'recipes' are revolting. LOL.

Two foreigners, Gerald & Marta, have bought neighboring houses in Italy, each hoping for a beautiful location that's peaceful. Gerald wants to concentrate on his career (ghostwriter of athlete autobiographies) & (heinous) cooking; Marta wants to concentrate on her career as a composer (currently working on a movie soundtrack for a famous Italian director). Both are rather put out to discover each other, since having a neighbor leads to all kinds of interruptions, misread intentions, noise, etc.... Here's a fun quote from early in the book after Gerald went to dinner at neighbor Marta's house:

"Things are looking good. Two days have now gone by since our dinner and nary a squeak out of Marta. I'm counting this as a culinary triumph: the ingenious use of food as an offensive weapon. Garlic ice cream with Fernet Branca may lack subtlety but it is highly effective and I feel that by giving you the recipe I have placed a pacifist's version of Clint Eastwood's famous .44 Magnum in your hands. "Make my evening, Marta," I might have said. And to my amazement she did, taking not one but three massive helpings. If I were a good neighbour I would have dropped in on her by now to make sure she is still alive. But I'm not, so I haven't."


I had an hour alone at Starbucks today to start this book. (Ah, lovely!) Within a few minutes, I was sniggering so much that I actually snorted out loud. (This as I was trying so hard to keep my laughing to myself as I sat there alone -- you know, I didn't want to be tagged as the crazy lady at that table over there....) Oh well....

Obviously, so far, so good on this one!