Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April is Tuscan Month Here at Silver Webb's Salon!

Fresh off my triumphant book review of Will Write for Food, I've been jazzed on the idea of reading and reviewing books by food writers, as a way to sharpen my own craft. And I love a theme. So, whilst twiddling my toes and fantasizing about dinner, I asked myself, what do I want to eat in April? Pasta. When is the answer not pasta?! So, I decided to review three books by Frances Mayes, who has written a well-known series about Tuscany. One of them, Under the Tuscan Sun, was made into a movie with Diane Lane, about the poet's decision to buy a Tuscan villa, fix it up, and savor life in the countryside.

You have to be in a certain mood to enjoy the Tuscan Sun series. The relaxed Tuscan lifestyle in the countryside, where neighbors come over for eight-hour dinners and each meal has six courses and nobody ever eats alone, and you savor olive oil made from your own olive trees...this may be some people's fantasy, but it is a New Yorker's nightmare. Eight-hour dinners? Don't you know I have stuff to do and places to be and I am very, very busy, thank you! And I'm not even a New Yorker. I'm just a California gal who loves food. But if I'm honest, I tend to eat dinner in front of my laptop, while I work, with my cats nearby asking for little nibbles from my plate. In part, this is because I am, as mentioned, genuinely very busy. But part of it is cultural. I have no idea who my neighbors are, and the last thing on earth I want to do is spend eight hours chatting with them. The only thing I spend eight hours doing is sleeping.

Honestly, most nights that I'm writing about a restaurant or favored foods, I am probably eating a grilled cheese sandwich with pickles for dinner. I suppose the difference is this: I save the amazing food and the bottle of wine for special occasions and meals out. The point of the Tuscan books is to make every night a special occasion, in your own home. To which I say, if you are a poet living in the Tuscan countryside, perhaps there actually is nothing more to do in a day than write, eat, and be merry. For most Americans, that is more like their yearly vacation, when they set aside the daily grind and try to not hurry or worry so much.

 So, hey, I need a vacation. Tuscany isn't in the budget right now. But in looking up from my laptop, I can admit that there is a very nice back patio outside my window, with roses, lavender, and bougainvillea. A very nice wood table and wicker chairs that I could sit at during sunny afternoons. Why, I could even get nutty and eat out there. I could buy a bottle of wine for my weeknight meals. I could...wait for it...go Tuscan!

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