A Curious Absence of Chickens by Sophie Grigson

3.5 out of 5 stars

It was following an interview with a fellow author called Russell Norman about his book Venice that made up Grigson’s mind. She would sell of give away anything that she couldn’t get into her purple car and move to Puglia in Italy. In May 2019 she arrived back there after an absence of 40 years.

Stopping in the town of Vieste she felt welcomed by a magnificent dinner and epic firework display to celebrate a saint. But this wasn’t the place for her, she wanted to go further south and ended up in Ceglie Messapica where she finds a place where she will make her home.

Whilst the food in Puglia is Italian, it is also very much not Italian as it doesn’t take long for her to notice the differences and discover the unique flavours and styles. Each chapter picks up on a food-centric theme about life there, from wood-fired ovens to the absence of cows in the landscape. Some of the dishes look wonderful and will be trying some out.

I liked this a lot, she paints a wonderful picture of life there. I have been to Sardinia and Sicily and Umbria but not this part of Italy as yet. There are more recipes than travel writing than I would have preferred, but Grigson is still an entertaining and informative writer and each recipe has an introduction or a potted history about the dish. If you like Italy and want to make yourself hungry whilst reading this is a good place to start.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Wow, what a thing to do! I fear we will find a place in Spain but store all our crap in the house here … ! what about her books, though, does she say?

    • Paul

      Given the way this country is going, it might be worth thinking about. She didn’t say much about her books

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