Only in Naples Lessons in food and famiglia from my Italian mother-in-law

Katherine Wilson, 1974-

Book - 2016

"In the tradition of M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle, this enchantingly warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad, where a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean. It is all thanks to a surprising romance, a new passion for food, and a spirited woman who will become her mother-in-law--and teach her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Random House [2016]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 287 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780812998160
0812998162
Main Author
Katherine Wilson, 1974- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Vivid, candid, and oftentimes hilariously honest, this memoir traces Wilson's decision to leave her uniquely quirky, well-to-do family in the northeastern U.S. to experience the exquisite flavors of Neapolitan life. After graduating college and unsure of what her future should be, Wilson leaves her eccentric family to study abroad in Naples. There she almost immediately falls in love with the city, its food, and the family of the man she will later marry, Salvatore Avallone. In true Italian fashion, his mother, Rafaella, expertly educates Wilson in key life lessons, one recipe at a time, showing how culture, food, and love are inextricably linked. Wilson's own unhealthy relationship with food is positively altered as she strengthens her relationships with the Avallone family and finds a new home in Naples. The recipes included and the stories of famiglia are studded with mouth-watering meals, from the simple Neapolitan pizza to the complex ragú. Each experience, each delicious meal is insightfully described as the reader follows Wilson's path toward carnale, becoming confident and comfortable in one's own skin. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

During a college internship in 1996, Wilson fell in love with the quirky and wonderful city of Naples, Italy. Wilson, who was raised in Washington, D.C., now resides in Italy with her husband and their two children. Her warm-hearted memoir weaves snippets of her upper-middle-class upbringing into the chronicle of her life in Italy for the past 19 years. During her internship, Wilson was taken under the wing of a Neapolitan family with two children her own age, headed by an irrepressible matron. Wilson began learning the language and customs of everyday life that were not readily found in guidebooks. She slowly grasped how enjoying good food can spill over into the love of life. Wilson explains that she had been a chubby child and struggled with what Italians call "disorganized, messy eating sickness," or binge-eating disorder, while growing up. But Naples and her adopted family showed her a different way to eat and live: "Naples is an anti-binge city. In Neapolitan culture, mealtimes are sacred—food is freshly prepared and consumed in compagnia." Wilson includes special recipes for savoring alongside her sweet and humorous narrative. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"In the tradition of M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle, this enchantingly warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad, where a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean. It is all thanks to a surprising romance, a new passion for food, and a spirited woman who will become her mother-in-law--and teach her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Recounts how the author fell in love and married into a traditional Italian family with a mother-in-law who imparted vibrant cultural lessons about how to be an Italian wife and mother and how to cook delicious authentic cuisine.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"When Katherine Wilson decides to do an internship abroad after graduating from college in 1996, she is warned by her family and friends against going to Naples. It is dirty and dangerous, she is told. 'The good guys and the bad guys all look alike;' 'You should really go to Tuscany,' she is cautioned. But it is the chaos and vibrancy of Naples that intrigues Katherine. After taking an internship at the American Consulate she is set up on a blind date with a young man named Salva. She expects to be takento dinner at a pizzeria, but instead is taken home to meet Salva's mother, Raffaella. This marks the start of Katherine's initiation into Italian society. She and Salva end up marrying, but it's Raffaella who gives Katherine the culinary and cultural education that marks the beginning of her womanhood"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Traces how the author fell in love and married into a traditional Italian family with a mother-in-law who imparted vibrant cultural lessons about how to be an Italian wife and mother, how to cook delicious authentic cuisine and how to be comfortable and confident with one's body.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Full of lighthearted humor, sumptuous food, the wisdom of an Italian mother-in-law, and all the atmosphere of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, this warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad. Thanks to a surprising romance—and a spirited woman who teaches her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love—a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean.When I saw the sea at Gaeta, I knew that Naples was near and I was coming home.“There is a chaotic, vibrant energy about Naples that forces you to let go and give in,” writes Katherine, who arrives in the city to intern at the United States Consulate. One evening, she meets handsome, studious Salvatore and finds herself immediately enveloped by his elegant mother, Raffaella, and the rest of the Avallone family. From that moment, Katherine’s education begins: Never eat the crust of a pizza first, always stand up and fight for yourself and your loved ones, and consider mealtimes sacred—food must be prepared fresh and consumed in compagnia. Immersed in Neapolitan culture, traditions, and cuisine, slowly and unexpectedly falling for Salvatore, and longing for Raffaella’s company and guidance, Katherine discovers how to prepare meals that sing, from hearty, thick ragù to comforting rigatoni alla Genovese to pasta al forno, a casserole chock-full of bacon, béchamel, and no fewer than four kinds of cheeses. The secret to succulent, tender octopus? Beat it with a hammer. While Katherine is used to large American kitchens with islands and barstools, she understands the beauty of small, tight Italian ones, where it’s easy to offer a taste from a wooden spoon. Through courtship, culture clashes, Sunday services, marriage, and motherhood (in Naples, a pregnancy craving must always be satisfied!), Katherine comes to appreciate carnale, the quintessentially Neapolitan sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own skin. Raffaella and her famiglia are also experts at sdrammatizzare, knowing how to suck the tragedy from something and spit it out with a great big smile. Part travel tale, part love letter, Only in Naples is a sumptuous story that is a feast for the senses. Goethe said, “See Naples and die.” But Katherine Wilson saw Naples and started to live.Praise for Only in Naples “In a world filled with food memoirs, this one stands out. Katherine Wilson gives us more than the fabulous food of Naples. She offers us a passport to an exotic country we would never be able to enter on our own.”—Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year“Warmhearted . . . an exuberant account of love and great Italian food.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “Sweet and humorous.”—Publishers Weekly“Wilson has written a glorious memoir celebrating the holy trinity of Italian life: love, food, and family. Her keen eye and sense of humor take you through the winding streets of Naples at a clip, on a ride you hope will never end.”—Adriana Trigiani, author of The Shoemaker’s Wife “How lucky we are to get these hilarious and wise perceptions filtered through a sincerely loving eye.”—Julie Klam, author of Friendkeeping “This thoroughly enjoyable love letter to Naples is a tribute to the author’s irrepressible mother-in-law.”—Luisa Weiss, author of My Berlin Kitchen and founder of The Wednesday Chef