Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cookbooks Weigh Me Down

I've spent the past 4 months trying desperately to control the overwhelming urge to buy books. I constantly remind myself that a handful of books will quickly put my weight allowance over the limit when I fly back to Albania. I try and try to invent ways to carry more books with less weight, but in the end I know it's impossible. So I finally gave in and bought books to leave here in the new house, but that leaves me feeling sad. There's a second bookstore here in the village and I'd managed to avoid pulling in there all winter. However with less than 14 days before my journey back to Tirana, I lost all my willpower and pulled into the shops parking lot yesterday afternoon, 'just for a look-see'. It's a small shop with not much stock, but I was hungry for a new cookbook or two, and they had a sale on- buy 2 get 1 free. So I came away with 3 great cookbooks. The Williams Sonoma Italian Favorites, full of mouthwatering photos and recipes; The South Beach Diet Cookbook; and Many Beautiful Things, which surprisingly is the most charming 'cookbook' I've seen in a while.

I bought it without realizing that it was written by the actor Vincent Schiavelli. When I got home I sat in my favourite chair and took a look at the back cover where I found a picture of a familiar face. Then I spotted blurbs about the book from Martin Scorsese, Alice Waters, and Danny DeVito. You'll know Vincent from his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Ghost, and Amadeus. The book is lovely, filled with stories and recipes about Polizzi Generosa, a village in his family's native Sicily. I've just read a few pages, but who can resist reading a book where pears are described like this: "The pears seemed to cry when we peeled them..." It's truly beautiful. I'll share more as I read through this lovely gem.
Sadly, I didn't know that Vincent died just this past Christmas Day in Sicily. I find it reassuring that someone who was not endowed with physical beauty could write so beautifully about "Many Beautiful Things".
Vincent... you live on through your wonderful words. Thank you.

2 comments:

Expat Traveler said...

While I'm in Canada, I hate buying books. They are just too darn expensive. Usually almost 1.5 times that in the Us... Pitty...

christina said...

I wasn't aware that he had passed away either. He was a great character actor. The book sounds lovely - I'll have to look for it when we're on vacation.

Could you not send a few books fairly cheaply by Book Rate or M-Bag or whatever they call it? I suppose they wouldn#t get there until 2008 then, huh?