Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I recently finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The plot? Gilbert writes about her life beginning when she divorces her husband and finds peace in her life by traveling to three different countries: Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and Thailand (Love). Now I won’t go into details of what I thought about the book since this is a food blog, but if you are interested, feel free to comment. I did want to go into the first part of the book though, which is Eat! The main character goes to Italy to, one, learn the beautiful language and two, to eat to her heart’s desires. I am Italian and my love for food runs deep, as does Gilbert, but she’s a writer and can express it better.
So here are some of my favorite quotes about food from the book. Enjoy!
Unsurprisingly, she knows all the best places to eat in Rome, including a gelateria that serves a frozen rice pudding (and if they don’t serve this kind of thing in heaven, then I really don’t want to go there.) She took me out to lunch the other day, and what we ate included not only lamb and truffles and carpaccio rolled around hazelnut mousse but an exotic little serving of pickled lampascione, which is –as everyone knows—the bulb of the wild hyacinth.
I walked home to my apartment and soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs for lunch. I peeled the eggs and arranged them on a plate beside the seven stalks of asparagus (which were so slim and snappy they didn’t need to be cooked at all). I put some olives on the plate, too, and the four knobs of goat cheese I’d picked up yesterday from the formaggeria down the street, and two slices of pink, oily salmon. For dessert—a lovely peach, which the woman at the market had given to me for free and which was still warm from the Roman sunlight. For a while I couldn’t even touch the food for it was a masterpiece of lunch, a true expression of the art of making something out of nothing. Finally, when I had fully absorbed the prettiness of my meal, I went and sat in a patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and at every bite of it, with my fingers, while reading my daily newspaper article in Italian. Happiness inhabited my every molecule.
But he is Neapolitan, no question about it, because before I left Rome he gave me the name of a pizzeria in Naples that I had to try, because, Giovanni informed me it sold the best pizza in Naples. I found this a wildly exciting prospect, given that the best pizza in Italy is from Naples, and the best pizza in the world is from Italy, which means that this pizzeria must offer…I’m almost too superstitious to say it…the best pizza in the world? Giovanni passed along the name of the place with such seriousness and intensity, I almost felt I was being inducted into a secret society. He pressed the address into the palm of my hand and said, in gravest confidence, “Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me later and tell me that you did.” So Sofie and I have to come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered—one for each of us—are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it… There’s not a menu. They have only two varieties of pizza here—regular and extra cheese. None of this new age southern California olives-and-sun-dried-tomato wannabe pizza twaddle. The dough it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust—thin and crispy, or thick and doughty. How was I have to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance, much the same one shimmering movie star in the middle of a party brings contact high of glamour to everyone around her. It’s technically impossible to eat this thing of course. You try to take a bit off your slice and the gummy crust folds, and the hot cheese runs away like topsoil in a landslides, makes a mess of you and your surroundings, but just deal with it.
I tell her that I don’t need to see the menu but could she just being me the best food possible because this is my first night in Sicily. She rubs her hands together in pleasure and yells something in Sicilian dialect to her even-more –elderly mother in the kitchen, and within the space of twenty minutes I am busily eating the hands-down most amazing meal I’ve eaten yet in all of Italy. It’s pasta, but a shape of pasta I’ve never before seen- big, fresh, sheets of pasta folded ravioli-like into the shape (if not exactly the size) of the pope’s hat, stuffed with a hot, aromatic puree of crustaceans and octopus an squid, served tossed like a hot salad with fresh cockles and strips of julienned vegetables, all swimming in an olivey, oceany broth. Followed by the rabbit, stewed in thyme.
So there you have it – my favorite food quotes! Know of any other novels about food? Please share.