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Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood

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Bitter Almonds is the true story of a woman's extraordinary courage, and a gift from the past of an almost-lost tradition. At the heart of the book are forty-six recipes, written down for the first time, of unique Sicilian specialties. In the early 1950s, Maria Grammatico and her sister were sent by their widowed, impoverished mother to a cloistered orphanage run by an order of lay Franciscan nuns in Erice, a mountaintop town on the western coast of Sicily. It was a spare, harsh existence, but here Maria learned ...
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Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. 1994 Hardcover New 0688124496. FLAWLESS COPY, BRAND NEW, PRISTINE, NEVER OPENED.

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Overview

Bitter Almonds is the true story of a woman's extraordinary courage, and a gift from the past of an almost-lost tradition. At the heart of the book are forty-six recipes, written down for the first time, of unique Sicilian specialties. In the early 1950s, Maria Grammatico and her sister were sent by their widowed, impoverished mother to a cloistered orphanage run by an order of lay Franciscan nuns in Erice, a mountaintop town on the western coast of Sicily. It was a spare, harsh existence, but here Maria learned to prepare the beautifully handcrafted pastries that were sold to customers outside the convent walls. This book is a tribute to Sicily, a record of a unique and vanishing craft, and a witness to the endurance and the ultimate triumph of a Sicilian life.

This combination of recollections and cookbook is an inspiring story of triumph over adversity. Raised in an orphanage, Maria left at age 22 with nothing but the centuries-old secrets of the orphanage's divine pastries. Maria presents these one-of-a-kind treats in 50 delicious recipes. 8 pages of color photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bitter almonds lend depth of flavor to the buttery cookie doughs prepared by nuns in the south of Italy. And the bittersweet recollections of Grammatico, a renowned pastry cook and shopkeeper in Erice, Sicily, lend depth to this slender volume of Italian recipes. As researched by Mary Taylor Simeti, author of several books on Sicily, the reminiscences of hardships endured during Grammatico's girlhood, spent as an orphan in a Sicilian cloister, give poignancy to the uncomplicated, sweet pastries that make up her life's work now. Americans accustomed to rich excesses and scads of chocolate in their desserts may not find much to excite them here. But those who savor fine pastry and Italian artistry in marzipan and baking will apreciate the enormous effort necessary to translate Grammatico's recipes for use in our kitchens. Recent voyagers to the south of Italy may find themselves feeling slightly homesick for the simpler meals-and simpler lifestyle-evoked by Grammatico. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Simeti is the author of the delightful Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-Five Centuries of Sicilian Food (LJ 8/89) and On Persephone's Island (LJ 3/15/86), also about Sicily. In the course of her research, she discovered Grammatico's pastry shop in Erice, where Grammatico continues to make the traditional pastries she learned as a girl in an orphanage run by nuns. At one time convents all over Sicily were known for their special pastries; now making the special marzipan creations and other cookies Grammatico sells is almost a lost art. Simeti presents Grammatico's own account, spirited and often moving, of her bleak life in an austere convent orphanage-although it was during the late 1950s, it reads more like something out of Dickens-followed by the recipes for all the pastries she offers at her thriving bakery, now known far beyond the town of Erice. A unique and special book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688124496
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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