By the Olive Groves: A Calabrian Childhood
In 1939 a girl was born in the Aspromonte mountains of Calabria, a beautiful land steeped in history and suffused with tradition but weighed down by poverty and the 'Ndrangheta - Calabria's Mafia. As the tremors of World War II shake the heart of Calabria, so the little girl's childhood unfolds. Her life is simple, revolving around school, friendship, family. At its heart is the kitchen where the dramas and joys of family life are played out and where her mother, Giulia, creates delicious Mediterranean dishes. In this rich and heartfelt memoir, which includes many of her mother's recipes, Grazia Ietto Gillies, with humour, affection and a critical eye, remembers her youth in Calabria, from childhood sickness and her unusual extended family to the excitement of religious festivals and an incident with the feared 'Ndrangheta. Now, sixty years later, she realises that Calabria has defined everything she has ever done and that she has never really left the mountains of her childhood.