Ah Springtime! Beautiful weather necessitates the need for the perfect beach read. Not that you have to go to the beach to read it--the backyard would be fine too. The ultimate beach read in my mind is a paperback, it's light and upbeat, nothing too serious, it has a little romance and whole lot of fun. Oh, and a little food and foreign travel wouldn't hurt either.
And so I give you my choice for one heck of a great beach read. The Food of Love is a twist on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac (Roxanne) story of mistaken identity with one man courting a woman on behalf of his friend but in this case it is done though food. The main characters are Laura, an American art student living in Rome, Tommaso her paramour and Bruno, the Cyrano character who happens to be a talented chef. Bruno cooks for Laura and of course she falls in love with Tommaso who she is lead to believe is doing the cooking all along. The story is set in Trastevere and the book feels in some ways like a travelogue, you get the sights and sounds and the flavors of Rome. You'll taste the aphrodisiac tartufo, enjoy trips to view Renaissance masterpieces, learn to make Saltimbocca (recipes in the back of the book) and get caught up in the romance of Italy.
There is plenty of humor, great details of Roman and Italian cuisine and culture and even a little sex thrown in to keep things interesting. Having once been an American girl in Italy, there was a lot I could relate to in it. There was even a beach scene that reminded me of going to the beach when I was in Rome. The author really has an eye for details, and an obvious passion for all things Italian. The book is thoroughly charming and if I'm not wrong it will soon be made into a movie. But for the beach, the paperback version is the way to go. The book came out a couple of years ago and you can find used paperback copies of it on Amazon for under $1. You can also check out the book website here.
Over at SF Station is my review of the Nua a fairly new restaurant in North Beach.