“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” - James Michener
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Meeting Frances Mayes
At a book signing at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park recently, I had the pleasure to listen to Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun : At Home in Italy, talk about her fascinating life in Tuscany. Mayes spoked about how food and community are deeply intertwined. As an example, after the olive harvest, locals go to the piazza to share their olive oil with one another while each one believes his/her oil to be the best of the lot. When asked about her favorite food experience in Italy, Mayes mentioned the first communion celebration of a neighbor's child where 140 people were invited and a procession of pastas were served at the end of which, four men carried a roasted cow from the Val di Chiana. She said that in Italy, an eight-hour meal would not be unusual and that guilt is never associated with food.
After her talk, Mayes read a chapter from her new book, Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life. It was followed by a Q&A session and book signing. Someone asked what her favorite season in Tuscany is and she replied that winter is the best time because the cities are less crowded, tourists are gone which means there are no lines to enter the museums or restaurants, and the locals are out once more enjoying their home turf. Mayes also mentioned that September is a good time to be in Tuscany for the sheer delight of viewing the unique Tuscan light that envelopes the countryside.