Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Eat, Pray, Love.
The forecast for Sunday called for rain. When I awoke however, clear skies and bright sun greeted me through my window. Though it was still somewhat early I found myself home alone, and calls to Mer and Sarah’s mobiles both went unanswered. With no car and my only friend in Cape Town busy with her parents for the weekend, I was somewhat limited with my out-of-house options. Undeterred, I took advantage of the gorgeous day to work on my tan and catch up on some reading.
Before she left Cape Town, Auntie Anne left me with her copy of Eat, Pray, Love, (www.elizabethgilbert.com, a non-fiction book by Elizabeth Gilbert that spent a number of weeks at the top of the New York Times best seller list), that had been passed on to her by her lovely friend Nicole. My plan had been to read it and get it back to her via ST when she returned to Canada but clearly that didn’t work out.
Balanced on two patio chairs under the blazing late morning South African sun, with daft punk playing on my laptop, a glass of cold chardonnay in one hand (well it was almost noon), and my book in the other I started to read. And read and read and oh my gosh read. For those who have not yet read this book, I suggest you do so immediately. As in, stop reading this and go and buy it. Right now.
The basic premise of the book is that New York-based novelist Gilbert goes through a messy divorce, suffers a near complete breakdown, and is saved from the depths of despair with great help from her publisher who offers to pay her salary for a year while she travels the world and writes a book about her experiences (I am paraphrasing the plot quite liberally here, but you get the idea). The book is divided into three sections, with each one dedicated to a region of the world that she visits. The first is Italy, where she goes to learn Italian and enjoy the food, the second is India where she seeks spiritual enlightenment, and the third Indonesia where based on the title I assume she finds love, though I haven’t gotten that far yet.
In Italy no detail is spared in her discussion and description of the endless culinary delights she enjoys. For those who do not know me, food and the pleasure that it brings me, plays a significant role in my life. Alone there in the courtyard, reading a brilliantly-written book by a woman who clearly shares this passion, while enjoying a cheeky bottle of chardonnay and some of my favourite music on a blazing hot day…suffice to say that it was sublime. Gilbert’s words grabbed me and pulled me in. Transported me to Rome while I enjoyed the sights…sounds…smells…tastes…right alongside her. Her book fed me inspiration and I devoured it hungrily.
My favourite part so far has to be from chapter 27, where Gilbert is discussing a pizza lunch that she and her friend share at a small but famous little pizzeria in Naples.
“…before I left Rome he gave me the name of a pizzeria in Naples that I had to try, because, Giovanni informed me, it sold the best pizza in Naples. I found this a wildly exciting prospect, given that the best pizza in Italy is from Naples, and the best pizza in the world is from Italy, which means that this pizzeria must offer…I’m almost too superstitious to say it…the best pizza in the world? Giovanni passed along the name of the place with such seriousness and intensity, I almost felt I was being inducted into a secret society. He pressed the address into the palm of my hand and said, in gravest confidence, “Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me later and tell me that you did.”
So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered – one for each of us – are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it, she’s begging me, “Why do the even bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why do they even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?”
See what I mean?
So stimulated by what I read, I not only made a delicious lunch with food from the garden and local produce, but soon found myself in a writing mood of my own, pounding heartfelt self reflection into my ThinkPad as fast as my fingers would allow.
Of course, Gilbert’s book is about far more than food, all of it equally delicious and stimulating, but I leave the discovery of that to you.
By the time my housemates came home hours later, I was halfway done the book, busting at the seams from the amount of food I had devoured, well into the aforementioned bottle of cheeky chardonnay, with pages of writing saved.
I also, it should be noted, had a sunburn.