February 28, 2011

Keeping the Feast

One couple's story of  Love, Food  and HEALING 


I  randomly came across this book on the biography section in my favorite bookstore. I didn't hesitate to buy it as soon as I read ROME and FOOD... What can be more appealing than Italy, Dining and Love?!

Keeping the Feast is a remarkable story of a woman, who passionately fights against all the overwhelming odds in her life in order to save her love, marriage... and life itself. The memoir is a profound celebration of dailiness of life, of all the simple things that we do every day and especially preparing that simple good food which "sustains not only bodies but souls as well."


As Paula Butturini states in the prologue "like memory itself", this book wanders back and forth between old recollections and new. "Food is the thread that connects them, for food has always been my lens and prism, my eye on the world. I may write about the smell of asparagus, the color of polenta, or the taste of figs still warm from the sun, but all of it is a personal shorthand for weighing hunger and love, health and nourishment, secrets and revelations, illness and survival, comfort and celebration, and perhaps above all, the joy and gift of being alive."

Paula was a foreign corespondent when she met John, also a corespondent, in Rome. Twenty-three days after their wedding John was shot and nearly killed, covering the Romanian uprising against Nicolae Ceausescu. Their life changed forever. Even though John recovered from his big deep physical injuries, he suffered from depression.  

The couple decided to return to the place they had fallen in love, hoping that Rome's beauty, bounty and happy memories will heal them both. The kitchen become Paula's therapist, food-their only source of comfort. "Not fancy food or chichi restaurants, not the latest food fads or expensive ingredients; Just the magic of HONEST food-fresh and wholesome-simply prepared and eaten together three times a day, from ingredients that Italians have largely been eating for millennia..."


Upon reflection of her childhood Paula Butturini realizes that the best times in her life are the times she shares food with loved ones, her father and mother (her mother lost her battle with depression as well), her grandparents and extended family, John's children and her friends.
Don't we all often overlook these special times as being ordinary ?!

Whether she writes about ASPARAGUS

or the actual PIZZA, a flat, round  pie, slathered in tomato and cheese

 or the pears of her grandfather's youth ''This big!" 

or the polenta that her father cooked

 or strawberries - the smaller, the better - sliced over a mound of fresh ricotta,

Butturini writes with such incredible care and love and tenderness. She proves that food evokes memories...
"All of us cook, I think, in part to feed our daily hunger, but just as important, and perhaps more so, we cook and eat to feed our spirits, to keep us all in the same orbit of life. As the generations turns, as our family expands, the table and its simple pleasures-never just the food, but the food and the talk, the food and the laughter, the food and the tears, the jokes, the memories, the hope-still hold us in place, well anchored in a safe harbor..."   

As difficult as the subject of depression is, he book reads easily. I only missed dialogs and John being   presented in more depth. The pain of the author was sensible, but I lacked the worthy description of her spirit. I mostly like the gentle way of Paula Butturini showing that daily routines can be comforting and healing and eating meal should be a celebration of life itself.  
Reading the book brought back a whole host of vivid memories of the time I spent in Italy, enjoying everything there!  

Paula Butturini 's spaghetti with clams


Keep the feast that we are meant to keep , the feast that is our life !

Thank you for the visit, dear friend !

       An Edible Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought


  1. Wonderful photo's,How true I think we all share long lasting memories of eating around the table,with family, friends, wine and food!
    Yvette x

  2. What a feast for the eyes & senses~ your photos are magazine worthy! I heard about this book last from Jain but haven't read it yet.

    I keep scrolling up & down...each photo or series of photos is more gorgeous than the next and so beautifully done. I love your pear series of plates & mosaic and your pizza looks so amazing, I can actually smell the basil wafting from my screen!

    You've managed to elevate a wooden spoon of polenta to ART! You have captured the simple things of life with your bundle of rosemary, grapes & bread and turned them into something to celebrate. What a wonderful review~ thanks so much for sharing this book!

  3. I love to read, so I appreciate your detailed review of this book. Please link it up to our What We're Reading Linky Party on March 20! I will definitely out this on my Barnes & Noble wish list :D

    Your pictures with it are lovely, too!

  4. Bravo! This is a stunning review. Each photo drew me in as if I were actually reading this memoir. I'm adding this one to my list. Simple things in life, good food, Italy ~ I think this sounds like a great read. You are a talented photographer. These images should be in a book of their own. The photo of the spoon of polenta is a piece of art! I'm putting you right up there with Jain and Mary ~ you know how to play at FFT. Thanks! ~ sarah

  5. Lovely photos! I'm your newest follower. http://moogieland.blogspot.com/

  6. Thank you..I need to buy this book..I need to like eating once again. I'm afraid to sit at the table and not feel like it is a good place to be.afraid to enjoy food. My family grew up enjoying time at the table. My dad insisted we all be together for meals. I need to bring that back into my life. Glad I found your inspiration..

  7. This review was truly amazing and so artfully done with immense creativity. I think that you share this post with the author, Paula Butturini. I can only imagine her reponse to someone who truly understood her words and the points she was trying to make. Your photographs are so stirring....just like the thoughts from the book, and reach into the soul. They both compliment each other in the most compatible manner.

  8. So creative love the combination of books and food. A real treat and now I want to get the book!

  9. I agree that sharing food around a table can create wonderful memories. Love your story within your tablescape.

  10. Dearest Sylvia,

    I am honored, extremely honored that you would come to visit me, and comment so kindly on my post. As I read your post, I have to say that among all the posts that I visit, I encounter pieces that make me laugh, inspire me by fabulous TUMBLR photos, inspirational short messages and whimsical works. But this post has to be one of or rather my FAVORITE post that I have ever seen. You seem to know a trick that I know as well....to combine photos that suggest what you are writing about....photos that meld with your subject in an original way without being directly related...although in this case, food is a part of your story. But you beautifully showcased ALL the beauty of food while speaking of more somber things, and that is what is poignant. Your photography is stunning, and amongst many talented blogging photographers, you shine in the high ranks. I am taken away by the clarity of not only your photos, but of your presentation of this remarkable story. Thank you for visiting me. I would love to keep up with your photography; however you know how difficult it is to follow so many people! But I would love to pop over to visit to see what you are up to...thanks again and have a MEMORABLE DAY!!!! Anita

  11. Absolutely beautiful-you've reminded me of the things that should be important. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to look for that book!

  12. oh this was stunning... i am so glad you joined in food for thought, i am simply thrilled with your artistry! i loved this book too, if you look on my sidebar at food for thought you can see my version too~

    thank you so much for joining in, wonderful to find another reader with a great eye and good taste!

  13. What a beautiful post. Very nice photography. Food is a simple pleasure that can be missed in day to day living. And friend, simple ways are the best ways! I agree with that whole-heartedly.
    Thanks for linking this up!


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