Anthony Cappella is hands-down one of my favourite authors, not least because he writes the most delicious scenery and doesn’t shy away from a detailed description of someone cooking, or preparing coffee, or eating ice cream, all hung around charming romances and believable characters. The first one I read remains my favourite, and I will therefore be recommending that everyone deals with this bland winter we’re having in the UK by heading to Rome and Italian cooking, courtesy of Mr Cappella.
The Food of Love is a masterpiece of sensory writing, somehow avoiding descriptive overkill while drawing you into the elegance and heat of Rome and a romance based on food. It’s a retelling of the love story of Cyrano de Bergerac, but instead of love letters written by the less handsome suitor, the lovely Laura is seduced by the meals cooked by Bruno and passed off as his own work by his best friend Tomasso. I defy anyone reading it not to fall in love with the descriptions of the traditional Roman food Bruno cooks while trying not to be in love with his best friend’s girl. Best of all, there are recipes in the back.
The drink is tricky with this one. You want something light and fresh like an Italian morning, or flavoursome like white wine poured into a sauce to simmer, or thick and sticky-sweet like Marsala in a tiramisu. You want something perhaps with the kick of ristretti or some soft aperitivo to whet the palate.
After musing for a while, I’m going to offer up my favourite cocktail, a Bellini. Made of Prosecco and peach juice or puree, this is suitable for a few reasons. Firstly, the Prosecco, Italian, lively, but subtle and not intrusive on other flavours to be had or imagined. The peach gives it that summery twist and extra sweetness; The Food of Love includes at least one recipe with peaches, and at one point even a peach schnapps-like drink. And lastly it works for me because I had my first deliciously memorable Bellini on my first visit to Italy, in Venice when I was eighteen. Since Harry’s Bar in Venice claims the invention of this delicious cocktail, it seemed a good place to start – although mine was rather less expensive than the ones served there, or so I hear.
It’s a luxury perhaps, but so is anything written by Anthony Cappella, and a little sunshine goes a long way in an English winter.
Book: Anthony Cappella, The Food of Love
Pair with: Bellini