While they are walking in Sicily, the authors of this delicious Around the world in 80 flavors come across a big dog. To gain his trust, they share fruit with him. This truth comes to their minds: “In life, you can’t have butter and money from butter. Or, as we say in Italian: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” , we cannot have the keg full and the woman drunk. “ Nevertheless, the book by William Navarrete, writer of Cuban origin, and Pierre Bignami, “Who have traveled the world as a flight crew”, conveys many things to the reader and does so with elegant composure. No doubt the two men are traveling like this, calmly.
Their 36 chapters disseminate interesting historical knowledge about the places they have been, mostly together. In addition, there are details of the country’s artistic and religious culture, anecdotes on culinary traditions and some recipes. Some are complex, others, like pizza dough, are a snap. The destinations follow one another in the book in no identifiable order. It’s a happy brew.
Pierre Bignami comes from an Italian family who ran restaurants in “The most beautiful harbor in the world”, that of Villefranche-sur-Mer, five kilometers from Nice. The book opens with the story of the emigration from Umbria of her grandmother and her sisters in 1922, to flee fascism. They hoped to cross the Atlantic but the ferryman to whom they had entrusted their savings disappeared into the wild. They contented themselves with crossing the Alps and became recognized cooks. Several entries in the book are devoted to Italy, and many others to the American continent, which the authors manage to reach.
In Lima, they settled around Kennedy Square, “Near the Familia, the best-stocked bookstore on the whole continent, run by Martha, one of the best booksellers on the whole continent”. Several kinds of ceviche are available to them. They recall its connection with the Japanese and Chinese presence in Peru. In Krakow they hope to see the Lady with an Ermine . While waiting for the museum to open, they enter the “Milk bars” so popular in Poland in the 70s. In Tyrol, the reception leaves much to be desired. This is the only time they notice it. In Greece, they exchange wonderful grape leaves for the promise of sending Barbara records to their hosts later. In Bolivia, where William Navarrete is to participate in a literary fair, the authorities censor the demonstration. Born in Cuba, the writer is used to these reversals. He consoles himself by tasting a cheese made by the Mennonites according to a Swiss recipe.
William Navarrete and Pierre Bignami Around the world in 80 flavors Emmanuelle Collas, 348 pp., € 19 (ebook: € 12.99).