Book Reviews

Book Review: Bitter Greens


The author, a professor of creative writing, created not a book but a banquet of political satire, cultural criticism and culinary memoir. Do not expect to find many recipes in this book, but you will be engrossed in essays about how food is produced in modern U.S.A., on meditations on food, what and how Americans eat and why a good majority have become obese and grossly overweight.

The author depicts eloquently Italian immigrant butcher shops in Brooklyn, Hunts Point Mountain, Andy Boy brand of broccoli rabe, and the profound taste of Sicilian chocolate.

It is an engaging, instructional, illuminating, entertaining and highly informative book that anyone interested in food, politics, and stylistic writing should read.

It is part history, part personal essay, and part tour of Italy, part how turn-of-the-century poor Italian peasants arrived in the U.S.A. and started to lay foundations to establish their food culture.

Before setting foot on American soil no English-speaking American had heard about pizza, pasta, tomato sauce, anchovies, Sicilian onions. Up to that time produce cultivation in the U.S.A was a family affair that took place in front or the backyard of the house. Wine was a completely new alcoholic beverage to millions of English speaking Americans, and even today still millions don’t know much about wine, its enjoyment, and health benefits if consumed in moderation.

Di Renzo’s essays cover a wide range of subjects each of which backed with extraordinarily deep research and written with erudition.

This is a beautifully written crafted book by a devoted gourmet, and deservers a prominent place in any public and private library.

Highly recommended.

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