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Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • America’s favorite self-taught cook opens up about the most memorable moments of her life in this candid memoir-inspired cookbook featuring 125 all-new recipes. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED AND FOOD

ByHeriberto Lopez

The Princess Who Lived in a Fort Once upon a time, by a lakeside in the woods, there lived a beautiful little girl with dark wavy curls, rosy round cheeks, and a heart so big, a soul so bright, that her energy was boundless morning, noon, and night. My favorite fairy tale is actually the reality of my mother’s childhood. I’ve spent my life in pursuit of it, because the pictures in my head of how things once were are the most beautiful scenes imaginable to me. My mother, Elsa Providenzia Scuderi, was born on July 18, 1934, the first of ten kids. She grew up in a house on the edge of Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, New York. The main feature of the house was a tower of stone that helped to keep the house warm and cozy in the harsh, cold winter and cool during the long, hot days of summer. The tower stood at the heart of this home, and was actually a hand-stacked, artisan-crafted chimney that ran through the center of the house from bottom to top. It was built by her dad, my grandpa Emmanuel, a master stonemason. The house is gone now, but the stones of that tower still stand today. To look at it back then, I suppose to some people it was just the too-small house of a blue-collar worker with too many kids. To my mother, it was a fortress and she was a princess. Growing up by a lake is wonderful in and of itself. (Mom would raise me on the same lake years later.) During their childhood summers, Elsa and her sisters would gather the tall grasses that grew by the lake and make skirts, while the boys swam and chased each other. The uncles would play tricks on the children, like diving deep and floating a hat on the water to make the kids think they’d drowned, then rising up like a lake monster to scare them! Grandpa would play his concertina and all would sing and dance around big bonfires, Zia (Aunt) Patrina waving her moppina (Italian American slang for a dishcloth) over her head, leading them on. In the spring and winter, Daddy Emmanuel would wake his kids in the middle of the night and take them outside to sit in the notches he carved for each of them in the old tree that had fallen down long ago. He would tell them stories of sea turtles and of his life as a boy in Sicily. They would listen and giggle and yawn and try to keep their eyes open, waiting and watching the dark night skies for the northern lights. Then, when the light shows began, Emmanuel would sing to his kids, serenading them with Italian arias and old standards like “O Sole Mio.”


Publication Date
Feb 20, 2022
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): Heriberto Lopez




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