Under the Tuscan Sun again. I remember reading it years ago and wondering, how on earth does one buy a home in Italy, and where is this Tuscany I keep hearing about? Since then there have been numerous books about expats buying and restoring houses, eating great food and living la dolche vita. Frances Mayes has written several other books about her experiences in Tuscan, Italy, most recently Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life, but Under the Tuscan Sun remains something of a classic. When I first read it, I had recently become a vegetarian and was still trying to figure out how we were going to feed ourselves, let alone enjoy it. But Mediterranean cooking lends itself to a vegetarian diet: simple herbs, pastas, sauces, olives, nuts, edible flowers, just cooked vegetables; it's a great place to get your feet under you.
Ms. Mayes has a lyrical way of describing Italian cooking and celebrating her ingredients. There are two sections in the book containing her favorite summer and winter recipes. And peppered throughout you see how food influences life and vice-versa. It's worth a read for the aspiring vegetarian or the arm chair traveler.
Here's a link to a recent podcast where Rick Steves speaks with Frances Mayes celebrating 20 years since she wrote Under the Tuscan Sun.