Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

“La Cucina- A Novel of Rapture” by Lily Prior


The excerpt below is from this steamy book entitled La Cucina by Lily Prior , that kept me warm and cozy over the frigid Christmas season here in Winnipeg.   The story of a lonely librarian (I have yet to discover why the world assumes that librarians lead uneventful lives) is set in Palermo and Castiglione, Sicily.  The latter lies about 160 km east of Palermo and when we visited Sicily we were about the same distance from Palermo but in the opposite direction in Castellammare del Golfo. When I shared with my Facebook friend Erica Bauermeister writer of The School of Essential Ingredients that I was reading this book, this is what she commented “if I remember La Cucina accurately, you might need that blood pressure monitor!”  So if you are in the mood for a good (and lusty read), I would recommend the story. Here is an excerpt (Page 220 Kindle Version):

Once I arrive back at the farm, my legs walked me into la cucina, and instinctively I rolled up my sleeves and tied on my apron.  It was time for me to make myself at home once more in the kitchen.  The glossy eggplants nestling in a basket invited me to make a caponata, a sweet-and-sour vegetable stew.


I sliced and salted the eggplants and left them to disgorge their bitter juices.  While waiting, I chopped an onion and some tomatoes and celery on the old table.  The blade of the knife became a blur in my fast-moving fingers.  I chopped for Bastolomeo, a beautiful young life so needlessly cut down.  I chopped for l’Inglese, who I knew in my heart was also dead: no one ever survived a disappearance.  And I chopped for myself, for the happiness that was snatched away from me.  The vegetables soon became very small dice.  When I wiped the eggplants I fried them in some of Mama’s best olive oil, then set them to drain while I fried the onion, and added the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt.  When the sauce had thickened I put in a handful of capers, the celery, and two handfuls of green olives, and left the dish to simmer for a while.  This caused a delicious perfume to emerge from the open door of la cucina, and led old Rosario, loitering in the yard, to say, “Ahh, Rosa’s home.”  Rosario had been loitering in the yard my whole life.  When the time came we would have to bury him there.


Then I added the fried eggplants, a little sugar, and a little wine vinegar, and cooked it just long enough for the vinegar to evaporate.


I waited impatiently for the caponata to cool a little, and then ate it up with some chunks of fresh bread.  It felt good to be home.

Kath’s quote: “The meat touched her tongue and the taste ran through her, full and rich and complicated, dense as a long, deep kiss…feeling the river wind its way to her fingers, her toes, her belly, the base of her spine, melting all the pieces of her into something warm and golden.“-Erica Bauermeister (pge 56 School of Essential Ingredients).  Erica, obviously has blood pressure rising writing skills of her own.


Love-that is all.