Part of the magic of Simeti's On Persephone's Island derives from the author's ability to tell the story of her adopted homeland of Sicily through a year's worth of festivals, harvests, and food.
Here, in this slender volume, she recounts ten days in August during which she gathered together her four grandsons to involve them in the celebration of "the produce of our fields, the wine from our vineyards, the pleasure we take together for these summer months... to make these moments more significant for them and to render their memories more indelible." With a mix of simple recipes and charming stories, Simeti roots the dishes they prepare together in the local customs and foods, such as the almonds in a dish of pasta with zucchini blossoms and almonds harvested from the Simeti farm. While any grandmother might be forgiven indulgences when it comes to describing her grandchildren, Simeti does not dote here. She has a historian's memory and eye for detail that allow her to describe each grandson distinctly while connecting her cooking adventures with him to an element of his heritage. This is a sweet, simple book that one feels is over too quickly. Paperback. Color photographs throughout.