Monday, November 27, 2023


Three years, thousands of tears, thrice-tested (at least) recipes, thoughts of giving up and throngs of friends to thank for listening to me and keeping me going - finally my cookbook, Cooking in Green Lemon Land, is here! If cooking had always been therapeutic for me, I can assure you that writing a cookbook was not; in fact, it is one of the hardest things I have ever done but done it is and I am pleased with it.

It is not, I hasten to say, a Sicilian cookbook, but rather a book which shows what I do with the wonderful ingredients available to me here, incorporating into my dishes what I know of international cookery and, in particular, my love of spices. Where I do give Sicilian recipes, they are with my own touches.

I am not allowed to sell the book myself, nor would I expect or wish to do so, but hopefully copies will become available in one or two bookshops here and after Christmas (with the help of a friend to adjust the file in technical ways that are beyond me) I should be able to put it on Amazon. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, thanks to all in Italy and the UK who have encouraged me in this endeavour and happy cooking!

Friday, November 03, 2023



In the midst of a situation so horrendous that most of us cannot bear to look at the images, an eighty-five-year-old Israeli woman who has just been released turns and holds out her hand towards (I am choosing my words carefully here) a member of the organisation that had held her captive.

During a press conference held later Yochevid Lifshiz said she had done so because the man, a paramedic, had treated her kindly and, with others, had attended to her physical needs. She has been criticised for her gesture, but from what I have read since, I gather that the criticism was really directed at the way in which the press conference was handled. Mrs Lifshiz may also have been thinking of her husband, still being held as far as we know, or she may have taken pity on the man's youth. Or perhaps she was simply offering a gesture of humanity in an absurd situation, and I mean “absurd” in the horrific sense.

It has always interested me that in English we talk of a “theatre” of war to denote geographical location and that we also understand the concept of the “theatre of the absurd”. Is there not a connection? Is it not absurd that in the twenty-first century, with the tragedy of World War II still (just) in living memory, we resort to war to attempt to resolve our differences? War – in which the innocent are always hurt. War, in which there are always terrible deeds because war itself is terrible. There has been much talk in recent weeks about the “rules of war” and surely if we can have rules of war, we can have “rules of peace”, rules to which all nations would adhere? Yet we who are fortunate enough, thus far, not to have experienced war in our homelands cannot know what we would do and for the moment we just look at our many screens and wish that it would stop around the world.

My own interest in the theatre of the absurd began with the study of French literature and it is to France that I turn now to bring to your attention an article, about a “theatre of war” from long ago, posted by the BBC on 27th August this year. At the time, the events recounted in it stopped me in my tracks but I certainly did not expect it to seem so relevant just a few weeks later: Near the town of Meymac in Corrèze, central France, a ninety-eight-year-old former Resistance fighter, as the last surviving witness, recently decided to speak out about the mass execution there of German soldiers by the Resistance. This was because a German army division had killed ninety-nine hostages in Tulle and 643 civilians in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in retaliation for a Resistance uprising. (Preparations for D-Day had been underway.) The soldiers were made to dig their own graves and afterwards faced the firing squad bravely. Coins, bullets and other objects dating from the period have been found at what was the execution site but no human remains have yet been located. The Corrèze prefecture and Mayor are determined to find the remains of the soldiers, exhume them and, presumably, bury them in a fitting way. In war, says the Mayor, “You can be on the side of the righteous and still carry out what is morally wrong” and this is the sentence that so impressed me in August. As I have said, all sides carry out terrible deeds in war because war itself is terrible.

Do I have an answer for this? No, and neither do presidents, prime ministers, generals and diplomats who are much more knowledgeable than I am. I can only say that peace must be not only the outcome, but peace must be the way.

Of course, no one can negotiate with a tyrant or a fanatic but sometimes, perhaps, it is possible to offer a gesture of humanity: On October 23rd, an eighty-five-year-old Israeli woman who had just been released turned and held out her hand towards a member of the organisation that had held her captive. That day, she walked in peace.

With thanks, as always, to Mimi Lenox, who inspires us all to blog for peace.


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