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Italophile’s Candida Martinelli Reviews Italian Canadians at Table

italian canadiansIn her review of Italian Canadians at Table: A Narrative Feast in Five Courses, ed. Loretta Gatto-White & Delia De Santis, Candida Martinelli speaks about the purpose and format of the collection, and gives her own insight into the benefits of reading about the food-related memories and lives of others.

Italian Canadians at Table was published by Guernica Editions in Fall 2013.

The essays in the collection are divided into five sections— Antipasto, Primo, Secondo, Contorno, Dolce,— and take on numerous forms, such as biography, memoir, poetry and song.

Martinelli explains that  “central to the recollections [in the essays] is that in Italian communities, rapport building has long been based on the gentle gesture of breaking bread.

“The authors [of the collection] often relate how they felt as children, compared to how they feel today about their relatives’ generosity when it came to food and the house-guest.  Shame has been replaced by understanding, amusement, and even pride. There is a recognition that the attempt to keep up childhood-learned food rituals are actually a way to remember who one is, and where one came from.”

Moreover, Martinelli questions why we enjoy reading about other people’s memories and lives on a broader level:

“I suspect it is because they may spark our own long lost memories, and bring joy.  They may help explain a friend or relative who grew up in a culture similar to the essayists’.  They may point out the common human experiences that bind all of us together, no matter what our background.  These essays do just that!”

According to Martinelli, the essays are best when “savoured in small batches, like dishes served at a long Italian wedding dinner.”

To read the full review, visit Italophile Book Reviews:

Italian Canadians at Table is available on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Reviews.