I was taken by A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi from the very beginning. She knows how to tell a tale and draws her readers along with her breathless narrative.
There is a passion and intensity that emanates from an older woman who understands perfectly the intensity of life, love and food which she communicates with some relish. Her interest and curiosity is evident and you would have to be cold hearted not to feel slightly envious of the almost idyllic lifestyle the couple in this book actually experience.
If you want to capture the scent, sights and sounds of Tuscany this book achieves this admirably although it isn’t particularly stand-alone original in its palette. The reader will experience traditions and the conviviality of the food culture throughout the book and this is worth knowing. We are encouraged to appreciate the dawn, the heat, the rituals of traditional wood ovens, the simplicity and perfection of fresh cheese and of course the love of an Italian man!
There is another player who adds another dimension: the irascible Barlozzo who enthrals both the author and her husband. His knowledge and understanding of his beloved Tuscany is given like a series of well-chosen secrets and he becomes the fount of all knowledge regarding food, tradition, history and olive picking.
Floriana, another resident, also offers a different perspective but what is evident throughout the book is that fundamentally nothing changes and that Horace would probably still feel at home should he choose to return!
This is more than a food writer’s journal,although you feel like you have experienced a thorough cookery course in Tuscany once you have read it and I did feel compelled to make some of the recipes that punctuate the book. One of my favourites which was very successful happens to be Salsicce Arrostite l’Uve al Vinaio or Winemaker’s Sausages roasted with grapes which was sumptuous.
This tale is poetic in its descriptions, certainly it has been lovingly and knowledgeably crafted but perhaps it differs insufficiently to be an absolute must read. However, it is an easy read and a pleasurable one but I think it’s best read before visiting Tuscany but perhaps even better for the soul would be to learn about food first hand by spending time on a cooking course in Italy then you can come home and write your own!