Bella Figura: How to Live, Love and Eat the Italian Way
Journalist Kamin Mohammadi is overworked, overweight and just plain over the tasteless fruits and vegetables available in London, when she opts for a change. Quitting her job, she moves to an apartment in Italy for a few months, hoping to finish a book she's started.
Her new life brings unexpected new friendships, a short succession of suitors, (not the most engaging part of this otherwise fun and feisty memoir), and the loss of several pounds in spite of eating tasty food and drinking four spoons of superior olive oil daily. Surprise, she never moves back to London.
Awesome book-giver daughter, Julia, said the book helped her consider taking life more slowly, instead of working all the time. "Festina Lente or how to slow down," is the first of twelve chapters, each representing one month of the year and one Italian way of living. Put them all together and you get the title Bella Figura, the idea that life can always be beautiful, no matter how simple. Even if you're eating pasta alone, for example, you can still set the table and light a candle.
My biggest take away is that yes, you can drink olive oil from a spoon if it's "best quality extra-virgin," which is the type called for in Mohammadi's simple but delicious-sounding recipes sprinkled throughout her story, like Bruschetta with tomatoes, Pinzimonio (Roast veggies), Fennel and blood orange salad and Fig and ricotta tart. I happen to have some fresh figs at the moment so may try the tart.
Fig and ricotta tart
Shortcrust pastry dough (you can buy prepared with no guilt)
450g fresh ricotta
1/4 cup brown sugar (or local honey)
8-10 fresh figs
Pistachios, to serve
Too many calories? No worries we're assured in chapter nine, "Stare in forma or how to never need a gym again."