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Charming memories and recipes from Eileen Dunne’s magical time in Italy


02-10-2015 15:45

Eileen Dunne Crescenzi, proprietor with her husband Stefano of the perennially popular Dunne and Crescenzi authentic Italian restaurant chain, has written a charming new cookbook, packed with stories and memories from her time living in Italy.

 

Festa: A Year of Italian Celebrations in recipes and stories contains menus and recollections from every special occasion Eileen shared with her Italian family and friends. With the right food, every occasion can be cause for celebration and here you’ll find recipes for all kinds of gatherings, whether you’re getting a gang of friends together to watch some sport, looking for a romantic meal to share with your valentine or preparing a New Year’s Eve feast or bank-holiday blow-out.

 

Eileen has a memory to go with every recipe too, making this cookbook an immersive experience of the Italian way of life. When Eileen finished school in the 1970s, she went to Rome, at the suggestion of her aunts who worked for the UN there, and took up a place in Art School. It was a time when young Italian women were still very much controlled by the family and the aunts schooled her in how to eat, dress and keep house like a good Italian woman or ‘The taming of Eliza Doolittle all’ Italiana’ as she calls it!

 

She soon learned the importance of food during periods of political turmoil in Italy: as a young art student in the 1970s she was locked in her college with fellow students for 3 days under siege from ultra-right-wing fascists, but managed to secretly escape to her kitchen (along with a student who was to become her first husband!) to prepare a pasta dish and smuggle it back to her starving friends.

 

She was quickly acquainted with bizarre Italian traditions: Her beloved Fiat 128, which she had saved hard for, was destroyed in traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations that include throwing things out of the window, among them a washing machine which landed on Eileen’s bellowed Fiat! She took it in her stride, seeing it as the price to be paid for living in such a unique culture.

 

Eileen recalls with humour and style how she adjusted to the nuances of her new Italian family: being barred from her mother-in-law’s kitchen for making tea in the morning (in Italy only coffee can be drunk in the morning), how she got to grips with other Italian food traditions such as never waste a morsel of food, their obsession with children’s diets, their infatuation with specially made beautiful table cloths (created uniquely and with much pomp and ceremony for each family), and how she coped with the Italian tendency to question (read criticise!) how non-Italians raise their children.

 

Festa is published by Gill Books, priced at €24.99.

For further information please contact Teresa Daly, Communications Manager, Gill Books, 01 500 9521, 086 838 3559, tdaly@gill.ie.



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