I just finished reading “Mediterranean Summer” by David Shalleck. What a fantastic experience! This gem of a book is a must read for anyone and everyone who loves outstanding regional food and traveling in Italy and France.
David Shalleck spent a summer traveling the coasts of the French Riviera and the western Italian coastline as chef of a majestic sailing yacht. David had cooked in large and small kitchens throughout many of the regions of both Italy and France. He actually began his cooking career working in some of the greatest kitchens in NYC and the San Francisco area. But this was his first job as the chef. How did he do?
This exceptional book begins with a passionate foreword written by super chef Mario Batali. I almost skipped it. Thank God I didn’t. I slowed my pace and knew I would read every single word.
Shalleck sets the tone of his book by opening with a scene that could be straight out of a panoramic movie. Serenity, the yacht he is working on as chef, is moored just off the coast of Positano, Italy. David’s descriptions of the view are staggering and, will immediately take you back if you have had the distinct pleasure of visiting, or make you begin planning your first trip if you have yet to go. He has you hearing the quiet rippling of the Tyrrhenian Sea as it comes ashore, smelling the salty sea air and remembering the sight of the tiny bus as it chugs along the staggeringly steep hillside that is only known as the Amalfi Coast.
David Shalleck is a superb writer. I quickly settled in with his book and didn’t want to put it down. I spent a lovely Sunday reading this book. If it had been a plate of food I was devouring I would have licked the dish! A travel book of this stature doesn’t come along often. When it does, I put the brakes on and enjoy.
David made me feel as though I was part of the crew; scouring the markets at each port for important local foods, ones that would make the day’s meals unique yet indicative to only that special spot. The owners of the yacht had stipulated that meals never be repeated. Challenging and exciting.
For part of the summer the owners would be on board only on weekends, but for the entire month of August they would not only be around 24/7, so would a group of friends.
With delicious prose and wonderful incite, David shows us what it was like to sail the coasts of France and Italy, while working with and for edgy personalities, in some extenuating circumstances. He will make you smell the odoriferous food, enjoy the sea air, and quite possibly have you booking flight to this fairy tale setting.
I have had the good fortune to visit Positano and the Amali Coast a few years ago. It was the highlight of my travels. My husband and I spent ten adventurous days in and around Positano.
Go immerse yourself in “Mediterranean Summer.” You will be thrilled with this adventure.