Sunday, 14 February 2010

The very best Harlot's Sauce ever made....

...isn't actually any version of the Italian pasta sauce that became famous and is enjoyed these days all over the world.
That one, the "Salsa Putanesca", is a tomato sauce invented by harlots(prostitutes, in case you are,like me, a non native English speaker) in Naples, Italy, many years ago. The sauce had to be quick to fix – between clients (wink) – and economical. Nonetheless, those women made something delicious out of a limited choice of ingredients. That one, the pasta sauce, is delicious, but, I insist, isn't the best.

The best just happens to be a book, one written by an amazing woman, Patricia Volonakis Davis.

Now, let me explain in case you don't know me: I don't buy books. There are so many public libraries in London which will loan books for free, that in these days of financial struggling I find superfluous expenses have to be cut straight down.
But don't get me wrong,I do not find reading superfluous, God knows the battle I fight every day trying to get my teenage daughter to read, but unless the books are on sale or in charity shops, I can't afford them, so I make intense use of the libraries, suits me fine.
But when I started reading Patricia's blog in my days of blogging in Vox, I felt I HAD to buy this book when it was published.
Everything else she had written I had enjoyed so much, it had moved my emotions to such beautiful place, that it would be a shame to have to wait for ever until the book was available either on sale in shops or in Charity ones...mainly because she is in the US, but there was the urge to read I bought it.
It was available in Amazon at a very affordable price too, it was so worth it that I have since bought many more copies, the last couple I gave away to dear friends in Christmas.

Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece is a non fiction book, it tells us about her battle as a woman, wife and mother in such amazing way I think every woman in the planet should read it.
At first I thought I may not identify that much with the book, with her being in a different country, her story being so different to mine, but as soon as I started reading I not only couldn't put this book down, but also saw myself portrayed in so many situations, I realized she has written this book speaking to each and every woman in the planet, trying to send a message.
The best of it? she gets it across.
Not only that, but you will also travel to Greece in such style, savor the delights and experience something I cannot describe: for that you will have to read it.
And it isn't only interesting for women. Men will also love this book, even if, llike Carmen's husband they will discover how great they are...
If you are interested in reviews, there are lots of published ones if you just click HERE which will tell you better than I could.

I did write a review though, which was the reason that prompted this post today, but I couldn't find it.
I'm not sure why, but I have search the 38 Amazon reviews of the book and I'm quiet sure mine isn't there. Oh well, you wont loose much,as so many others have reviewed it so well, but let me get to the point of today's post...

When the book was first published (it has recently been published again with a new cover art, which I loved, pictured above)
Patricia held a Facebook competition at her Fan Page: writing a review of the book could win you dinner for two at an Italian or Greek restaurant
I had loved the book, so I did.
Funny thing was, I never in a million years thought I would win.
I'm not the kind of people who get lucky in competitions like this, but I did write the review because in my heart I thought every one should read this book....
And then one day I was looking for one of the PodCasts in Harlot's Sauce Radio and happened to find the video Patricia made to announce the competition winner...and would you believe it?
It was me.

Because we are some miles and waters away, we got a U$100 dollars Visa gift card, of course we would honor the spirit and go for dinner, it only took us a (errrmm little?) while to get it done, but finally we did.
I cook pasta quiet nicely,growing up in South America, Argentina & Brazil both with huge Italian colonies and traditions, I find it a bit of a waste to go out to eat something we enjoy so much cooking at home.
So Greek it would be.
There are many Greek restaurants in Camden, but this is our shopping neighborhood, we wanted to make it a different night out, so I looked into the Charlotte St restaurants, famous for the quality and not so dear in the price.
There is these days so much info about restaurants and so many reviews, that I got dizzy after reading 21 reviews of different restaurants in areas that would be suitable, but every time I typed Charlotte St the main link was Andreas.

Last thursday was Sarita's school progress review, parents evening after the previous week we had the GCSE's choices, so I thought we would have something to celebrate too.
I'm glad to say that we had a lot more to celebrate than I ever thought: 4 commendations, an A Star in Spanish, being that she is well ahead of the class, the teacher had explained me last year, whilst everyone does one type of work, Sarita is about 2 years ahead of everyone, and her teacher has so much confidence in her that she will get her to do the exam (GCSE) but not take the course....a hell of a compliment, especially if you know that we do not speak Spanish at home, but Portuguese.
Yes, I know,similar.
Similar, but not same.
The grammars are different, there are lots of words and phrase constructions which would not make sense in Spanish if translated from, a huge compliment to my child's intelligence. (yup, I'm a very proud mum!)

Also many of the other teachers, like History and Geography, want her to go for her subjects in GCSEs.
Again, I'm told this is a great compliment to Sarita's intelligence and power of achievement.
Her grades were wonderful in general...if only I could get her to get A stars in household chores, listening to mum or just not leave her boots, jacket and clothes like a trail all over the house...
but hey, if my mother survived my teenage years, I will surely come out well from hers.

Getting back to the point: Andreas, in Charlotte St. Nice place (we got (again, thanks to Sarita's sharp eye and determination) a place to park at the door, rare thing in the West End, service was nice, everyone had a smile and the manager even had a laugh at my tries to make Sarita eat Octopus (she eats Sushi, crabs, mussels but has some problems with the 8 legged ones).
The food was Ok, not all that, I have to say,but maybe is that we did not know well what to order (the restaurant was full when we arrived) I thought I would know as the Greek eat very similar to my parents Syrian delicacies, even the names are the same in many dishes, but the Octopus was a bit over grilled, dry; Sarita's meat undercooked even though I had made a point about her being just 13 and wanting it well done...
But never mind.
We enjoyed the night out very much, we will probably wait to eat Greek food again until we get to the Us and can go directed by the wise hand of Patricia herself , I'm sure she will be able to recommend a good place.

If you are still unsure about reading the book, go have a look at Harlot's Sauce Radio, there is enough there to get you hooked :)

As for our weekend, we had another outing on friday evening to Sarita's ex violin teacher's graduation play at The Poor School.
The play was wonderful (songs of old musicals) the cast was amazing but it ended up wrecking my poor body to such point that I haven't moved from the bed since friday night, and I am still attached to the tens unit :(
I will be fine though.

Here are some LO's I made with the photos of Thursday evening (low lights, blurred pics)
The first two LO's of Patricia & the book are entirely with a kit called Black & White Paradise, by one my fav Digital Crea designers, Moi.
The kit is on sale now @ Digital Crea Fr

The other LOs have elements and backgrounds from Choukette's several kits, and some frames and word tags by Kaowette's Day After Day kit.


Roban said...

You have me wanting to find out more about this book, so, yes, I'll go take a look and try to get my hands on it soon. How thrilling that you won the review contest! And the 100 to spend.... how fun was that?! Your layouts look fabulous, too. (As does your new Web page design. It's so bright and cheery.) And that daughter of yours! I know you're quite the proud mum with Sarita's teachers bragging on her intellect. Funny, Hannah leaves a trail following her throughout our house, too! And chores? We try. We really do.

Take care, dear friend! And thanks for sharing about the book.

Stephanie said...

Thank you very much
stephanie "MOI"

Anonymous said...

This was a very thoughtful and wonderful post! I'm so glad you liked the book and the dinner!
With warmest wishes,

Lindalou said...

I don't read very much at all, but this book sounds so interesting I'm intrigued, love the pages you have made from your meal, its making me hungry lol xxx

Rosemarie said...

So happy you won the review contest; you truely deserved it! And well done Sarita on the good grades!

MrsPeel said...

thanks so much girls....
I'm falling asleep but will be visiting your blogs tomorrow for sure :)