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Keeping House: A Novel in Recipes by Clara…

Keeping House: A Novel in Recipes

by Clara Sereni

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The title of this book in the original Italian is "Casalinghitudine", a word for which there is no English equivalent. It combines "casalinga", homemaker, with the noun ending also found in "abitudine" (habit), "solitudine" (solitude) and "negritudine" (negritude). It could perhaps be described as the embracing with pride, and from a feminist standpoint, of those things that are perceived as constituting "keeping house".

Cooking and food, for Sereni, represent a form of caring. The recipes here are placed in conjunction with events in the narrator's life, from her childhood, raised mostly by a grandmother and aunts, through her youth and involvement in radical politics, to her marriage and motherhood. Her relationship with food also reflects her relationship with her father, a journalist, politician and member of the Italian Communist Party, who also wrote about the history of food in Italy (a quotation from one work of his in fact ends this book).

In the recipes (many of which I have copied down to try), we find patience, love, complexity and simplicity, exactness and improvisation, like life.

I found this book quite engrossing, perhaps because I am of an age with Sereni and, albeit in the U.S., share some political experiences with her. I do think that readers with at least some knowledge of Italian culture and recent political history will be better able to appreciate this book than those who don't.

Read more about Clara Sereni.
  lilithcat | Dec 31, 2009 |
Very disappointing. The autobiographical material was hard to follow, and the recipes were boring. ( )
  almigwin | Aug 1, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clara Sereniprimary authorall editionscalculated
Miceli Jeffries, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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farine integrali di almeno 3 cereali diversi
Così le mie radici aeree affondano nei barattoli, nei liquori, nelle piante del terrazzo, nei maglioni e coperte con cui vorrei irretire il mondo, nel freezer: perché nella mia vita costruita a tessere mal tagliate, nella mia vita a mosaico (come quella di tutti, e più delle donne) la casalinghitudine è anche un angolino caldo.
Un angolino da modificare ogni momento, se fosse fisso sarebbe morire, le ricette sono una base per costruire ogni volta sapori nuovi, combinazioni diverse.
Reinventare unico sconfinamento possibile, reinventare per non rimasticare, reinventare per non mangiarsi il cuore.
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