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Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood (1994)
by Maria Grammatico, Mary Taylor Simeti (Author)
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553814656, Paperback)In the early 50s, Maria Grammatico and her sister were sent by their impoverished mother to the San Carlo, a cloistered orphanage in Erice, an ancient hill town on the western coast of Sicily. It was a Dickensian existence - beating sugar mixtures for six hours at a time, rising before dawn to prime the ovens, and surviving on an unrelenting diet of vegetable gruel. But it was here that Maria learned to make the beautifully handcrafted pastries that were sold to customers from behind a grille in the convent wall. At 22, Maria left the orphanage with no personal possessions, minimal schooling and no skills other than what she carried in her head and hands - the knowledge acquired during a childhood spent preparing delicacies for other people's celebrations. Today, she is the successful owner of her own pasticceria in Erice, her counters piled high with home-made biscotti, tarts, cakes and jams - torta divina, cassata siciliana, cotognata. This is her story, told by her friend and long-time customer as a tribute to Sicilian food and culture and a record of an historic and vanishing craft.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:32 -0400)
At the age of eleven, the daughter of a Sicilian sharecropper, Maria Grammatico, entered the San Carlo Institute in the mountaintop town of Erice, an orphanage run by nuns who were famous throughout Sicily for their almond pastries, but who were less adept at dealing with young girls. After ten years of hard work and harsh discipline, Maria emerged with the secrets of the nuns' pastries hidden inside her head. This is the story of her carefree country childhood-her Dickensian life in the orphanage with no heat, no running water, and only wood-burning ovens-and her triumphs as an entrepreneur and a world-famous pastry chef. Bitter Almonds includes 46 of the recipes that she 'stole' from the nuns, committed to writing for the first time in these pages.
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