Anna Del Conte brought Italian cooking to Britain at a time when the nearest most of us came to pasta was a tinned spaghetti hoop. Sharply observant, evocative, full of tastes and talk of food, hers is a delicious, poignant memoir of an unusual life and the food she loves to cook, which launched a culinary revolution.
Born in Milan, she grew up in pre-war Italy in a privileged gentler time. These are memories of a life seen through food, starting with a childhood in training (though she didn't know it), to be a food writer. When war came to Italy everything changed violently. Her family had to abandon their apartment and the city for the countryside, where in war-torn Italy the peasants still ate well, but life was dangerous... As a teenager, Anna became used to throwing herself into a ditch as the strafing planes flew over, and was imprisoned, twice.
But England made her too: she arrived here in 1949 when much of Britain was a culinary wasteland, married an Englishman and stayed on... Her memories of the time are vividly, hilarious preserved - from the joys of un-rationed horse meat to tomato soup at Lyons Corner House. While bringing up her children, she wrote books which inspired a new generation of cooks. Her story is informed and enlivened by the food and memories of her native Italy - from lemon granita in childhood winters to wartime risotto with nettles, from vitello tonnato to horsemeat roll, from pastas to porcini - each chapter rounded off with mouthwatering recipes.