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    Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian

    Bruculinu, America : Remembrances of Sicilian-American Brooklyn, Told in Stories and Recipes

    Schiavelli, Vincent

    Houghton Mifflin Co
    Published: May 4, 1998
    ISBN: 0395913748

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    Book Description
    Vincent Schiavelli's enchanting, sometimes deeply moving memoir with recipes, Bruculinu, America, is a warmly recalled distortion of Brooklyn, one of New York City's boroughs, as it really was. As Schiavelli says, "The stories may not always contain the strict facts, but they certainly tell the truth." Don't be surprised if his beautiful reminiscence of the miracle (which took place before he was born!) that saved his uncle Salvatore Calogero from dying of pneumonia brings a tear to your eye.

    Schiavelli, a successful actor, writes scenes so vividly that you participate as he visits a strega, or witch, who exorcised him of a medical problem when he was nine years old. (After seeing a doctor, Schiavelli's mother figured that in case the condition was caused by malocchio, the evil eye, it would be wise to cover all bases.)

    Schiavelli's recollections often involve his grandfather, Papa Andrea, a Sicilian master chef. The 70 or so recipes in this enchanting book come from him. The Baked Mashed Potatoes made with peas and grated cheese and fennel-flavored Pasta with Chickpeas are delicious everyday dishes. Baked Macaroni, rich with mushrooms, ground meat, and a touch of cinnamon, is for Sundays. Cucciaddatu are the buttery, log-shaped Christmas cookies filled with nuts and raisins that each Sicilian cook makes in his or her own way. Here, cocoa powder, honey, and cognac add nuances to the nubbly filling. The only frustrations with Bruculinu, America are that its compact size makes it hard to keep one's spot while cooking from it, and that the recipes are woven through the text in no logical order; to return to something in particular, it's necessary to consult a list at the back of the book. --Dana Jacobi

    Product Description:
    "In the early 1950s, Bruculinu, as the Sicilian immigrants called their Brooklyn neighborhood, was a remarkable place. If the weather was fair, the streets would be teeming with life. Women would be haggling with pushcart vendors in Sicilian and broken English over pieces of fruits and vegetables. Other vendors in horse-drawn wagons would be chanting their wares amid the song of the ragman's bell and the iceman's bellow. Growing up in this place was like having one foot in mid-twentieth-century United States and the other in mid-eighteenth-century Sicily." So begins Vincent Schiavelli's captivating story of coming of age in the Italian section of Brooklyn. In a series of witty vignettes, Schiavelli describes the social customs and secret recipes he learned from his grandfather, a Sicilian master chef, as well as the tenements, gangs, dances, holiday celebrations, and funerals that defined the culture of the neighborhood.

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