About Nanette Littlestone
Anagrams, cryptograms, crossword puzzles, word searches. If it had to do with words and letters, I could spend hours. In bliss.
I loved words as a kid and reading was my favorite hobby. The longer the book, the better, and I easily went from one book to the next. With all that reading of different plots and characters, the transition to writing should have been simple.
But it wasn’t. My first novel was totally inspired—I only wrote when my mind overflowed with story. And it was a magnificent story. The best ever written. Or so I thought. It took over six novels and a number of years for me to learn that my writing wasn’t perfect and I couldn’t plot worth a darn. My story lines were weak, my characters pathetic, and there was nothing to intrigue the reader.
Food, Glorious Food by Nanette Littlestone
Tender fettucine smothered in heavy cream and succulent porcini mushrooms. The crisp snap of twice-baked biscotti with your morning caffé. Lamb chops marinated in garlic, rosemary, and thyme and grilled to a perfect medium rare.
Food. Wonderful food. The nectar of the gods and one of our finest human accomplishments. We savor food with all our senses, not just our taste buds. Our eyes delight in the colors and textures, the visual display of the ingredients, the intensity and vibrancy of the palette. Aromas tantalize the nose and open the floodgates of desire. Lips and tongue and cheeks absorb the feel of the food, be it warm and wet or cold and slippery, hard and sharp or soft and thick. As we bite down we hear the orchestral overture begin with snaps and cracks and crunches. And then we taste, the briny salt, the puckering sour, the delectable sweet, the shocking bitter, the earthy umami.
One of the opening songs in the musical Oliver (from Dicken’s Oliver Twist) is “Food, Glorious Food.” After yet another breakfast of disgusting, watery gruel, the raggle taggle children dream about the wonders of food in all shapes and sizes: hot sausage and mustard, cold jelly and custard, peas, pudding, and saveloy.
Well, no offense, England, but I’m choosing Italy. Food is such a mainstay for Italians, a foundation for their culture. Whenever Americans think of Italy they think of the food, and for good reason. It’s delizioso! And I had such fun finding the different gems I included in Bella Toscana.
According to Yahoo, there are 350 different types of pasta. Long and straight, round and fat, tubes, wheels, rectangles, half-moons, ruffles, corkscrews, shells, bowties, and so many more. Pasta for sauces and pasta for stuffing. For salads, for soups, with vegetables, with seafood. Too many to count and combinations galore! Toscana orders cacio e pepe from room service (spaghetti with butter, parmesan, and pepper) and dines on fettucine con carciofi (fettucine with artichokes) with Flynn and friends. But there’s so much more than pasta.
There are pastries: amaretti, pizzelle, zuccotto, ricciarelli, cantuccini, schiacciata, buccellati, just to name a few. On a trip with Flynn, Toscana eats a flaky, warm chocolate cornetto (the Italian version of the croissant). At Maria’s bakery she sees chiacchere, a sweet dough that’s fried and coated with powdered sugar.
And gelato, the Italian word for ice cream. According to Condé Nast, the best gelato can be found in Rome, Parma, Naples, Florence, Bologna, Turin, Venice, Spoleto, and Milan. Really, just about anywhere you go. Some common Italian flavors are cioccolato (chocolate), gianduja (milk chocolate and hazelnut), nocciola (hazelnut), fragola (strawberry), limone (lemon), stracciatella (like chocolate chip ice cream), canella (cinnamon). In Castello del Leone, Toscana and Flynn share nocciola and pistacchio (pistachio).
And let us not forget dessert. The most popular Italian desserts are tiramisu, cassata siciliana (a sponge cake moistened with fruit juice or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit), and panna cotta (like an Italian version of flan). Other common ones are torta di nonna, torte di mele, cannoli, panettone, and zabaglione. Toscana indulges in a rich, decadent tiramisu at a restaurant in Rome.
With all this amazing food to sample, how can you not love Italy? No wonder Toscana wants to go back to her roots. As her grandmother used to say, A tavola non s’invecchia. At the table with good friends and family you do not become old. The Italian proverb is absolutely right. When you’re at the table with wonderful food (taking in the cornucopia of colors and shapes and delicious aromas) and you’re surrounded by the love and warmth of good friends and family, you can’t possibly grow old.
Ready to dive in? Then mangia! And buon appetito!
About Bella Toscana
An explosive yearning that can’t be denied
Disturbing visions from an ancient past
A mysterious stranger that somehow feels familiar
On the night of her fiftieth birthday, the comfortable ride of Toscana’s life takes an alarming plunge. Haunted by seductive visions, she tries to push aside the desire and focus on the husband who adores her. Then she falls for Flynn, a younger man with an eye for adventure and a heart full of romance, who leaves her doubting everything she’s believed about love and passion.
In Atlanta, Rome, and the lush scenery of Tuscany, Toscana searches for answers to the mysteries of her life while she faces her biggest question. If she listens to her feelings will she lose everything she holds dear, or does her heart hold the key to love and joy?