Thursday night, we hosted our book club holiday dinner party, including spouses.
Hot Fennel Dip with endive or crackers
Baked sausage past with Bechamel
Maria's Caesar Salad
Chocolate Cups with Nutella Gelato
Happy New Year Cake
We had a great evening of lots of food, wine and laughs.
We even threw the men out for a while to discuss our book. For December, we read Elizabeth Street, by Laurie Fabiano. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!
The story was based on the author's own family history. We meet the main character, Giovanna Costa, as a young girl in Calabria. We get to know her family, and the love of her life, Nunzio, in their small fishing village of Scilla. Eventually, Giovanna immigrates to New York City, around the turn of the century. She meets a woman doctor from Northern Italy, and becomes a midwife with her new best friend in the Italian neighborhood.
As the drama unfolds, Giovanna faces many tragedies. She and her new family are terrorized by "The Black Hand", precursors of the Italian-American mafia. They offer the family business "protection", at quite a cost. Payoffs are made, and a disaster strikes Italy. Finally, the good cop, an Italian police lieutenant, is murdered, and Giovanna's daughter, Anna, is kidnapped.
I was rivited to this story! The character Giovanna lived in New York as an immigrant during the same years my mother and her sisters were growing up there, in the early 1900s. The book took the author 10 years to write, and it was very well-researched.
I learned that Ellis Island inspectors were instructed to mark northern and southern Italians as two separate races; and how the wages for common laborers in parts of the country were divided into three categories, the highest salary paid to "whites," the middle scale for "coloreds," and the lowest amount to "Italians."
If you love Italy, go get this NOW! It was my favorite book of 2010!