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Pomp And Sustenance: Twenty Five Centuries Of Sicilian Food Paperback – September 1, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Paperback, September 1, 1998
$82.80 $12.49

100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le
"100 Million Years of Food" by Stephen Le
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While restoring her husband's family farmhouse in Sicily during the 1970s, American-born longtime Sicily resident Simeti ( On Persephone's Island ) discovered the "very ancient past"--specifically, culinary--of peasant culture in a maritime land. "Bookish browsing" led her "far afield" to an "eccentric vision of food" unveiled in this chronicle of the island's rich heritage, bequeathed by invaders, exacted by the hunger of the poor and marked by the aristocracy's "ability to transform the extraordinary" and make it their own. In a lighter tone, the expatriate celebrates street food, convent confections and ice cream--adored by Sicilians and descended from a sort of ur-sherbet ("sarbat") made by the Saracens. Simeti writes exquisitely of the foods of Odysseus and the cult of Aphrodite, of capers "trailing long sprays of coin-shaped leaves." Cups and tablespoons may appear foreign at such moments, but classic recipes are presented as meticulously as historical data. Readers may be moved to follow the example of Alexis of Tarentum, who in the fourth century B.C. "learnt to cook so well in Sicily" that he caused "banqueters to bite . . . the plates for joy." Illustrated.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

From the author of On Persephone's Island (Knopf, 1986), this is a delightful mix of culinary and social history, with mouth-watering Sicilian recipes included as an added bonus. Simeti begins with the classical era (with Odysseus himself, and a recipe for fava bean soup) and concludes with a chapter on Sicily's special ice creams and gelati; her wit and pleasing style make her observations on food, eating habits, and culture as addictive as some of the dishes she describes. Unusual, and strongly recommended.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st Ecco ed edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880016108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880016100
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As the Daughter of Sicilian Imigrants, I am naturally cautious of books that claim to be about a culture I know well and the land I think of as my second home. This book is wonderful! It has the rich history of Sicily interspersed with Recipies that are as my own mother made them. The real thing! It is written with great fondness of the Island and of its people. My father, of 88 enjoyed the book also.. saying that much of the history is how he remembers it from tales told to him by my great and great great grandparents. My advise is .. If you love Sicily, the history culture and food.. this book is a must have. It is a joyous work that Simeti has crafted well! My thanks to her!
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book after reading Julia Child's glowing review of it... Ms. Simeti's narrative is engaging and witty, and most recipes are easy enough for a beginner to follow with great success. My favorite is the recipe for Caponata (Sweet & Sour Eggplant). The narrative is beautifully complemented by the prints and artwork used throughout and it is truly difficult to set this book down without first becoming ravenous.
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By A Customer on December 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This cookbook is the real deal. If you have some familiarity with Italian food and are looking for different regional cuisines(and especially if you're Italian and Southern)you will find a lot of joy in this book. There aren't really that many recipes, but there is a lot of interesting background about all of those invasions in Sicily. Sicilians are Arab,Norman, Greek, Spanish,French and God-only-knows. That makes for an interesting mix, and the food is the most interesting of Italy if not what you usually get in a restaurant. The recipes however aren't that different from Neapolitan dishes, just imagine more Arab and Greek influence. The food: I tried a fantastic baked ziti with hard-boiled eggs, cheese and a pork meat sauce, all covered with fried eggplant(no breadcrumbs) from the bottom in an upside-down cake sort of way. It was very good. Also interesting: chickpea fritters; mint and caper tomato sauce; fennel and olive pasta; an "Arabian" pasta timbale. Simetti doesn't hold you to weird recipe confines, her explanations just makes sense and if you play around with them, it's still fine. If you're at all interested in food this book is a good investment. (And don't you want to know why Sicily is said to be the only Arab country that recognizes Israel?)
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Format: Paperback
I found this book years ago in a vendor book sale...At the time I never imagined what a real treasure I had found. Being of Sicilian heritage I found that many of the recipes handed down to me came from way back into the 11th century. That along with all of the wonderful stories made me realize that my grandmothers left me with such a rich treasure. All the stories blended to gether with the history in the book. It made me so proud to be of Sicilian heritage...
My grandmothers left me the richest treasure of all...Love, Great Food and a wonderful sense of worth.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a treasure! The wonderful anecdotes and evocative descriptions make it a delight to read in bed, and the fabulous recipes ensure that it is the most cooking-stained book in my kitchen.
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Format: Paperback
Having read every book by this author - I can recommend this
work to anyone who'd like to know what it was like for our
ancestors over the last 2500 yrs in Sicily. Within the pages, I found receipes that were handed down from my immigrant Girgentano
grandmother, Gesuelda. (Sicilian for Jesus). My family history project is only 10 yrs old, but by reading this book and making the receipes, I have come close to feeling and tasting the foods my Grandparents and their anscestors shared during their life time. Mary Taylor-Simeti has given Sicilian Americans a huge gift by writing about our Siclian history. If you want to know and understand more about why you are the person you are, Simeti's book can help in that journey.
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By A Customer on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This much more than a recipe book--tho it is that as well. It is principally a social history of eating norms and the impact of successive cultural invasions: Norman, Arabic, and the like. It explains why Sicilians of various classes eat as they do, and it is fascinatingly well-written and researched. A real treat that explains why this is the best cuisine that modern Italy has to offer.
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By A Customer on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This much more than a recipe book--tho it is that as well. It is principally a social history of eating norms and the impact of successive cultural invasions: Norman, Arabic, and the like. It explains why Sicilians of various classes eat as they do, and it is fascinatingly well-written and researched. A real treat that explains why this is the best cuisine that modern Italy has to offer.
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