Tag Archives: Mezza Italiana

Mezza Italiana released in the US!

Mezza Italiana has been released in paperback in the US! With many thanks to HarperCollins 360, Mezza is now available at US bookstores, online or to order in.

So lovely and incredible to think this book that was first written on a kitchen table in Italy has made its way across another ocean! Thank you for embracing it!

Tante belle cose, Zoë xx

 

 

 

 

Mezza Italiana

 

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Reading about Abruzzo…

Quite a thrill to see Mezza Italiana among such good company – thank you Life in Abruzzo!

A Traveller’s Companion: Top 15 Books on Abruzzo

 

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spaghetti per cena…

This is one of the first photographs I chose that I hoped would make the cover of Mezza Italiana (it’s on the back). Taken in the 1960s, it was dinner for my uncle’s birthday and one of the rare times the family got to eat together since one of my grandparents were usually doing a shift at their milk bar.

I love how the young, fair-haired friend (second from left) looks happy to be at the dinner table eating spaghetti among three generations of an Italian family (reminds me a bit of how Roger was when he first came to eat at my grandparents’ house). And of course that is my Dad in the front right corner, being his usual larrikin self!

 

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Some of Fossa’s laneways…

 … at around dawn while most of the village still slept.

These are just a few of the lanes that wind under, over and around the village and to me they are magical. Some tunnels have small frescoes and lanterns in them.

Most are just wide enough for a tiny car, others only able to be walked. The dog on the steps is Musso Nero, the village dog who was looked after by everybody {page 328, Mezza Italiana}.

I took these photographs with black and white film and an old Pentax camera more than a decade ago while staying in the village writing Mezza Italiana.

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Books update…

Mezza Italiana and Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar are both now in bookshops in Italy!

It is such a thrill, especially to think back to when I first started writing Mezza in a notebook on the kitchen table in the Abruzzo house of my family. What might the generations who sat there before me have thought?!

Thank you to all of you who have shown such affection and support for these books (and to those who’ve messaged me after spotting the books already in Milan and Florence!) I am very grateful! Tante belle cose, Zoe xx

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Books update…

Mezza Italiana by Zoë BoccabellaMezza Italiana now available in the UK

Including at bookstores such as Foyles, Waterstones, WHSmith and others as well as online stores.
It is available in paperback, ebook and audiobook.
Many thanks to ABC Books and HarperCollins 360 UK!!

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Hand-bound books…

bookbindingIn Bendigo not long ago, I came across a bookbinding shop that is the most similar I’ve found in Australia to the one I came across in Florence (p.212 Mezza Italiana). I couldn’t resist these handmade books and the owner kindly offered to emboss my name on them.
I wrote the first draft of Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar longhand in foolscap exercise books. The pens I used were cheap, plastic biros. The ink ran out in close to a dozen by the end. Mezza Italiana also began in longhand, at the kitchen table in my family’s house in Italy. That time I wrote in several diary planners that were out of date, with similar plastic biros.
These hand-bound books are so beautiful I feel almost afraid to write in them!

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Italian Christmas sweets…

Christmas treatsTime for some Italian Christmas treats… these poco zeppole {zippoli} are flavoured with citrus zest and Boronia Marsala {yes, the bottle with the little horse and cart on the label for those in the know}.

This small, bite-size version of the dumplings is very light {making them dangerously moreish!}

We always ate them on Christmas Eve at my Italian grandparents’ house after another Italian tradition, the fish dinner the night before Christmas.

 

 

* Recipe on p.338 of Mezza Italiana

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Bisnonna’s frittata…

Zoe's version of Bisnonna's frittataFor my Great-Granny Maddalena’s frittata, the main ingredients were eggs, some salt and flat-leaf parsley. She also used a lot of olive oil (her frittata never stuck to the pan!)

In Italy, she included ‘mountain greens’ that she’d collected from the hillsides in her apron, such as agretti, wild asparagus, nettles and an array of ‘wild greens’.

The frittata may also be baked in an oven rather than in a pan. This is a version of her frittata I made with asparagus and red onion – I stress this is ‘home cooking’ not ‘chef cooking’!!

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from Italia to Australia…

remo ship in SydneyThe ship, RemoThe Italian ship, ‘Remo’, which is linked to four generations of my family… my great-grandfather, Vitale arrived in Australia for the second time aboard it in 1932, my grandfather, Annibale sailed from Italy in it when he was just 15 in 1939, my father was named after it, and my nephew shares with it his second name.

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sweet dumplings…

ZippoliThese little doughnut balls are also known as zippoli, zeppole or sfingi in Italy depending on the region where they are cooked. (I’ve also tasted the German version quarkbällchen – known too as ‘Bavarian snowballs’ – from a roadside stall not far from Schloss Neuschwanstein.) There’s something about eating them fresh and hot from the pan, dusted with sugar! Often a Christmas treat – although they are good any time of year – I have treasured memories of my Italian grandmother cooking them to have after dinner on Christmas Eve.

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Roasted chestnuts….

Autumn means chestnuts, castagne and I always think of my Italian grandfather, Nonno Anni whenever we roast them. In the Abruzzo in the 1930s, Nonno Anni harvested chestnuts beneath Gran Sasso, later taking them to turn to flour at the stone mill with the wooden water wheel on the canal below his village of Fossa.

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3 year anniversary of Abruzzo earthquake…

On April 6th it is 3 years since the earthquake hit the Abruzzo around L’Aquila in 2009 and most residents are still in temporary housing. This photograph shows residents also in temporary timber housing or barracks, taken in L’Aquila after the area’s previous major earthquake in 1915 killed more than 30,000 {epicentre Avezzano}. The humour of the man on the roof bending looking through his legs is heartening considering the recent trauma they must have experienced.

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Freshly baked bread…

For many centuries, baking in most Italian villages took place mostly once a week or even a fortnight. Both my grandparents told me how they recalled the women of the village taking their dough to the forno (often the only oven in the entire village), and that each piece of dough had an identifying mark on it for when the women came back to collect their baked bread.

In Palmi, Calabria my great, great grandmother and bisnonna baked for their area in a large, wood-fired oven or forno in a room beneath their house.

While I’d heard these stories and have been to the village forno I had never seen any pictures so I was thrilled when photographer, Carla Coulson recently sent me this Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. It was taken in 1953 in the Abruzzese town of Scanno as women were carrying their dough to the forno for baking.

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