Friday, January 15, 2010

Food for Thought: Part I of Bringing Tuscany Home by Francis Mayes

"Like the Tuscans, I want pasta every day," Francis Mayes wrote in Bringing Tuscany Home.
Whenever I open this book, I not only dream of pasta, I dream of being at Bramasole, talking about food and writing with the Mayes.
Above, you can see Bramasole peeking through the trees.



Since this is an epic review, I had to divide it into two parts, so I'll do a complete summary next week. But I can't tamp down my excitement. Let me just say that all 226 pages are filled with Mayes' poetic images and achingly beautiful photography by Steven Rothfeld.
The recipes celebrate Tuscan cuisine, but you don't have to be in Italy to cook them. For instance, homemade tomato sauce calls for canned, whole tomatoes.
Although I wouldn't mind being in Cortona right now, eating tomatoes and gelato.




Francis writes about secret places, antiques, Tuscan design--and food, of course. She is a true foodie. But I wouldn't expect anything less from her since she is a native Southerner.



I pulled out my Italian china, and guess what? The dinner plate matched every photograph in the book.




Each time I read Frances' first book, Under the Tuscan Sun, or this one, Bringing Tuscany Home, I feel cozy and cheerful. Francis is a poet, and her words capture the bright slant of sun, the smell of rosemary, and the feel of grainy, warm soil as she plants a garden.


Since Francis lives in California part-time, she wrote this book as a way of infusing Tuscany in San Francisco--or wherever she happens to find herself. She shows us how "place" isn't entirely geographical but a state of mind.



I'm joining Jain in her inaugural "Food for Thought," which celebrates the written word and food (my two favorite things other than Mister). Everyone is invited to join the party. To check out this visual treat, visit Jain at http://onceinabluemooniris.blogspot.com/2010/01/food-for-thought-kick-off.html .

5 Stars *****
Bringing Tuscany Home by Francis Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun. Photography by Steven Rothfeld. Broadway Books, 2004; 225 pages. Available at fine bookstores everywhere. To find an "indy" near you, visit:

40 comments:

  1. heavy, heavy, HEAVY SIGH!!! be still my heart... you just made pasta the most sensual thing on the planet... when did you become this 5 star photographer, i mean you are just blowing my socks off...

    i cannot get over how impressed i am with every shot, and i am trying to figure out how i missed this book! i am getting this pronto, as soon as i read my 24 library books due back in 2 weeks!

    food for thought was made for you, your prose and pics, slapped on the table, yikes we are in for a treat!

    i keep scrolling over and over again, pitter patter, pitter patter my heart is racing tonight, i am just over the moon happy!

    thank you so much for your help today, for sharing food with thought with your readers and for embracing this with such passion its dripping right off the screen! can't wait for part 2!

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  2. Oh Michael....thank you. Having grown up spending my summers in Italy, these books hold a dear and special place in my heart. She paints a vivid and true picture of all the memories I hold.
    May I ask the name of your Italian china? It is SO similar to a set my grandmother had (which, alas, went to a far-away cousin). I would kill for one like it
    Pattie

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  3. Enjoyed my visit here looking for topics about food as I just love it especially pasta.
    You are an artist that's for sure.
    You might like to visit my blog today and you will see that I have sqeezed in a recipe on PINK Saturday! Clever eh?

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  4. What a feast for the eyes and soul! Food is so tied to my emotions and memories. I guess that is why it is such a sensual experience for so many. There are smells that can immediately transport me to a different time and place. Thanks for these beautiful photos.

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  5. Gorgeous photography! What an inviting review of Bringing Home Tuscany. I am off to order a copy.
    Oh, I would love to know the brand and name of your beautiful Italian china too.
    Hugs,
    Sue

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  6. You have made me want to read this book:) Well done!

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  7. Glowing review. Thanks for making me aware of this book. It looks like a stunner!

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  8. I will have to search out this book. Sounds as though I would enjoy it. So many books...so little time...

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  9. Wow...the photos alone are amazing and the book sounds fabulous. I loved the film based on the first book. Loved this!

    Sue

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  10. Oh Michael - What a post! The coupling of your plates with the beautiful pictures and enveloping words is simply magical.
    - The Tablescaper

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  11. Oh, my what a feast for the eyes. Your photos are incredible. What a beautiful way to present dried pasta! Thank you for sharing this thoughtful presentation of one of Frances Mayes books. Loved UNDER THE TUSCUN SUN. I'm adding this one to my list of "Must Read". I eagerly await part II. ~ Sarah

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  12. Deep Sigh!!! What a beautifu post, Michael, You make everything look and sound so wonderful,Kathysue

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  13. I loved "Under The Tuscan Sun," but didn't know about this book. I'm definitely going to look for it this weekend. Love your china and the way you presented the pasta with a ribbon around it.

    And girl, besides being a writer, you could SO be a professional photographer! Hope you, Dr. G, and Bandwith have a great weekend!

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  14. Wow!! Beautiful post. I'm putting this on the "must" have list of books. Your photos are "amazing.. hugs ~lynne~

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  15. Gollum,
    1. Your post is breathtaking!
    2. Your photography is indescribably beautiful!
    3. Your dinnerware is to be envied!

    Now, how much more encouragement do you need to start writing a book about tablescaping, et al. You have the contacts (built-in) I would think, every fan in blogland is a buyer (a given) and you could buy more dishes(consider it research!)to make this book an over the top success. DO IT! Fondly, Jackie PS. Why don't you set up a poll and see how many potential buyers you would get???

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  16. Just beautiful photos! I love the look of this book and you gave it a wonderful review. A must have for me!

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  17. Wow Michael, you outdid yourself on this one! I have read this post twice and will read it again, as the images and prose are simply stunning. Frances Mayes may be your inspiration and I think she is rubbing off on you. In other words: could you just write the book already. You know I will buy it! In the meantime, I'm off to my little local bookstore to buy "Bringing Tuscany Home. --Delores

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  18. I will have to go buy this book. It looks like a great read :) When were in Italy is was total heaven on earth. We has such great italians, show has the best of their areas.
    Along with that we also were introduced to alot of their customs. One custom that we don't do here; sit down to eat at around 6:00 pm and not leave the table until 10:00 PM, just enjoying good food and conversation.

    Thanks for sharing such a great book!
    Have a blessed weekend.

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  19. This was a visual stunner, Michael. I have read her other books but missed this one. My curiosity is piqued. I'll definitely be back for the summary.

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  20. The story about my dishes: I bought them in the early 90s from a woman who sold china in her garage. She'd found them in Italy. The pattern is "Victoria," and they are not truly Italian; they were made by Union K China in the Czech Republic.I wish I knew the story of how they got from Czechoslovakia to Italy. If dishes could talk, they'd fascinate us all.
    You can sometimes find these dishes on Ebay.
    Here's a link if you want to learn more about the mfg: http://www.tias.com/cgi-bin/showcase-item.cgi?itemKey=3923336101&store=/stores/dhac

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  21. Wow! I love pasta and simply adored "Under The Tuscan Sun". Now, between your words and outstanding photography, I need to check out this book. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  22. Was just reading through your comments and Just A Dreamer is definitely on to something. Micheal, you *need* to write a tablescaping book!

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  23. You do more with a plate and a ribbon!!! Magnificent!! The book sounds wonderful too... great post!!

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  24. I could barely concentrate on what you were saying because I was enraptured by your pictures! I cannot believe how beautiful you made a half pound or so of spaghetti look! You are amazing!

    Justine :o )

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  25. I am just in awe of the artistry of the photos with the light and the ribbon and pasta...it truly is a visual feast.

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  26. Frances Mayes' words are what I hear when I think of Italy. It may be a romanticized version of it but that is okay with me.
    Bramasole would be such a wonderful place to live.
    I look forward to reading this book. Thanks for the review.

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  27. Fantastic! This is perfect for my Tuscan home and decorating style. Thank you for sharing. I'm off to the bookstore...immediately!

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  28. I get totally lost in each photo; sometimes I miss the words you write in between them.

    Your blog is like vacation for me every day!!!

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  29. I have all of Frances Mayes books and love all of them. Bella Tuscany and A Year in the World are also good. Would love to travel with her and her husband!

    Your photography is captivating and you write so well on your blog. I can't wait to read all your books. I want to read all your previous blogs first because they are so inspiring.

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  30. Each photo of yours is breathtaking!! You should do this professionally!! The whole post is delicious to the eyes. I will look up these books. The china is beautiful.

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  31. What beautiful photographs and those plates are gorgeous! It's going to be difficult to not go out and buy every book you review with your photography! I'm afraid I'll go broke. laurie

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  32. Beautiful photography!! This book looks very neat. Thanks for sharing.
    Love & blessings from NC!

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  33. Nice fill someone in on and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

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  34. Hi Dear Gollum! Oh, what a wonderful post! Now I loved "Under the Tuscan Sun" and you've made me want to read this beautiful book!
    Now again, look at your beautiful photography! Love your dishes and you've made the pasta look so elegant dressed in that green bow!
    Thank you so much for visiting me and I always am thrilled at your comments!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  35. What a treat for all the senses, Michael! The apple green of your ribbon mixed with the gorgeous floral plates & the wrought iron chairs in garden scenes in the book evoke strong yearning for spring to arrive.

    I was not aware that Francis Mayes had written a second book & I have now placed it at the top of my looooong list of *must reads*, thanks to your eloquent descriptions.

    Jain's inspired "Food For Thought" blog is going to keep us all enthralled & well read.
    I hope to be able to join the postings soon.

    fondly,
    Rett

    p.s. I just found out that you are a cousin of Hettielynn, a long time online sewing friend of mine! I've known & talked to her for years....& even mailed items back & forth between us. The blogosphere makes the world smaller & a better place with each new contact. I'm glad you're in it! :D

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  36. Sold! I absolutely want this book now, lol. And I have to tell you that I LOVE LOVE how you tied the pasta with a pretty big bow! That is the best idea ever and I will be using it. Thank you!

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  37. YOu are simply amazing girl! YOur photographic skills are unparalleled! GOEGEOUS!!! Like others said I could hardly concentrate on the review for the pictures!!!! The china is beautiful!!!!!!!! Oh, be still my heart. I will go get this book ASAP! XO, Pinky

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  38. Beautiful..
    Only you would tie humble pasta with gorgeous ribbon..and the plates..so pretty!

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  39. Who knew simple spaghetti tied with a beautiful, green ribbon could be so beautiful. You might have started an online trend. Dare I say I will see tied bundles of pasta in every kitchen soon. (thinking where I can add one into my own kitchen) LOL

    Your photography has always been remarkable, but these pics are particularly wonderful. You captured the lighting perfectly. i cant wait to get this book. I am gonna go get it tomorrow, it will be the perfect "recovery" book after my surgery. Hope you are well,my friend. BTW, I will email you but some of us are trying to get together to go to the Savannah Historical Home/Garden tour in March. Would soooo love if you could join us. Talk soon, Barb

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  40. Oh dear, you did it again, you have me drooling not only over the book and believe me my puter is about to short circuit, but those dishes, oh gosh and your photos, even the pasta in the pretty green bows. I do believe your quite genius. I have under the tuscan sun both in book form and movie/dvd, we watch that every Valentines day and sometimes just because. I am now officially awaiting this book.
    When can we expect to see GWAHM at the bookshops then :-)
    I also ordered Henry VIII's last wife, loved that FFT post. hugs, Kathy.

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There you are! I'm so glad you're here. Love, MLee xxoo

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