Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cooking with Fernet Branca

Now who can resist a novel with a title like this? And how did I come upon this previously-unknown (to me) author, the expat Briton James Hamilton-Paterson?

I was enlightening my readers with my post about Italian amari, and out of a compassionate concern for humanity I of course felt it necessary to warn said readers about the highly objectionable Fernet Branca. Being the thorough Eggplant that I am, I did a brief Google search to ascertain that the feeling was indeed not a merely subjective one, and found a consensus on Fernet's awfulness. I also came upon this recent novel built on the extended gag of its protagonist trying to ward off undesirables by preparing (what's the opposite of delicacies?) grossities. Neologism, you heard it here first.

So, our British hero in Lucchesia (Look-keh-ZEE-ah), the area in Tuscany surrounding Lucca, plots to repel his neighbor by making a garlic and Fernet ice cream. He describes it memorably as being indicated for the sort of person "one would be glad to hear had died during the day." Don't we all know people like that? I know lots.

Sorry to say, but it doesn't work. But I won't spoil the ending for you. This is just a funny little book, but it should lead one to take a further look at other things by the author, an interesting man.