Vanilla Beans and Brodo

Vanilla Beans and Brodo

by Isabella Dusi

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
This isn't just another "we moved to a foreign country for a better quality of life" book. Instead, it is a leisurely exploration of a medieval Tuscan village and its people, from a tortured past to a thriving present. Montalcino, which has perched for centuries atop a hill in Tuscany, is noted today for its exceptional Brunello wine and the annual Sagra, an archers' tournament. Australians Isobel and Lou Dusi arrived there as empty nesters. Over time, as they found acceptance among the Montalcinesi, they became Isabella and Luigi. But their book is less about cultural adaptation than about paying meticulous attention to every facet of Italian life. Culturally sensitive, Dusi avoids the trap of mocking the unfamiliar or seemingly bizarre. She takes small steps to insinuate herself into social life, always mindful of a history that is not her own. She introduces us, without prejudice, to the ancient animosities between the country and village people, enthusiastically supports the local soccer team, and works to save a church in her Pianello quarter. Most of the stories, though, belong to the Montalcinesi Duci's landlords, shopkeepers, village officials, historians, hunters, and amateur archaeologists. This m lange of adventure and social history is recommended for large travel collections or where there is interest in Italian life. Janet Ross, formerly with Sparks Branch Lib., NV Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A leisurely and comprehensive-perhaps too leisurely and comprehensive-catalogue of seasons in a Tuscan town, from Australian Dusi. In 1994, Dusi and her husband Lou upped and moved to Montalcino, in Italy's Tuscany, away from their unexceptional life in Australia. By their fifth year in town, Dusi felt embosomed enough in the town's ways ("Isobel and Lou have become Isabella and Luigi and we have begun to find acceptance") to give a faithful recording of a passing year. She starts with a walking tour of Montalcino, through time-for this is a town that has protective walls approaching a 1,000 years in age, and a history that pokes back a few more centuries-and space, reporting on every trattoria, osteria, and cafe, the composition and character of each of the quarters, right down to the origins of obscure street names. There are pleasures as old as the hills: plump figs stuffed with a walnut, biscuits of ground almond, orange peel, and honey-the whole cucina povera, which hardly seems such, especially when the local and noble Brunello is always close at hand, a wine considered the best Italy has to offer. There are archery contests pitting quarter against quarter, there are feast days and olive harvesting, hunts of wild boar and the "passive violence" of soccer matches, legends of betrayed women and woodcutters seeing the face of the Madonna in a tree trunk. Dusi's telling of these events is not merely intimate; the detail is step-by-step, blow-by-blow. Almost every sentence feels (at least) a word too heavy-"A milky globe, crisply outlined, hangs in a velvet sky flooding ghostly shadows into lanes and bathing the soaring fortress walls in a silvery glow." And Dusi's irritating habit ofappending English translations to Italian words is distracting: "When is the notaio, notary, arriving?" Dusi gives Montalcino a real presence, but readers may wish she would stop talking long enough for them to smell the rosemary and garlic.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.92(h) x 1.23(d)

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