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Cooking with Fernet Branca (2004)

por James Hamilton-Paterson

Séries: Gerald Samper (1)

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5714442,812 (3.67)142
Gerald Samper, an effete Englishman, lives on a hilltop in Tuscany. He is a ghostwriter for celebrities, and a foodie, whose weird tastes include 'Mussels in Chocolate and Garlic' and 'Fernet Branca Ice Cream'. His idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta, a vulgar woman from a former Soviet republic now run by gangsters, notably male members of her family. She is a composer in a neo-folk style who claims to be writing a score for a trendy Italian film director. The neighbours' lives disastrously intertwine. The entourages of the rock star and the director come and go; mysterious black helicopters bring news of mayhem in Voynova, Marta's homeland; and along the way the English obsession with Tuscany is satirized mercilessly. World rights for Cooking with Fernet Branca are controlled by Faber. Rights for Germany have already been sold.… (mais)
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This book is indeed witty. If not for the wonderful writing and use of language, I would have rated it lower, for in fact, I didn't enjoy it very much. I think the problem may have been the humor which perhaps was aimed at a British audience and the recipes, that others may have found hilarious, left me unmoved. In any case, I didn't get much of it and very little made me laugh. Ah, but the writing, the wit, that was worth the read. ( )
  dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
This is a rather humerous book examining the relationship between two neighbours who just want to be alone - Gerald the ghostwriter and *cough* adventurous chef and Marta the composer and member or an ex-Soviet crime family.

This book is a little chaotic and all over the place. There isn't that much of a plot. Other than Gerald and Marta learning to co-exist. My favourite part was definitely the recipes, even though I probably won't try most of them. Some may seem relatively harmless (like fish cakes) but others include garlic ice cream, cat pie and otter with lobster sauce. Most of which include Fernet Branca (which I discovered is an alcohol and not a person!) ( )
  TheAceOfPages | Mar 26, 2023 |
Excellent. After getting readjusted to the loquacious British humor, which I haven’t enjoyed in a while, this was hard to put down. Can’t wait to read the sequels. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Excellent. After getting readjusted to the loquacious British humor, which I haven’t enjoyed in a while, this was hard to put down. Can’t wait to read the sequels. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
It's been nothing but bad news lately, so it's time for some lightweight comic reading.

I think that I probably bought Cooking with Fernet Branca because it was longlisted for the Booker in 2004. My visit to Goodreads today reveals that it is Book #1 in the Gerald Samper series which surprises me a little because I thought that the joke had worn a little thin towards the end, but still, it is a funny book.

The narrative is carried by two alternating voices:

Gerald Samper is a truly awful and spectacularly pompous Englishman who is a ghost writer of sporting biographies. He despises all his subjects, as indeed he despises many things, including his neighbour in Tuscany where he has bought a villa. Since he considers himself a writer of more importance than his publications suggest, he has had assurances from the house agent Mr Benedetti that this villa is remote and quiet and conducive to creative thought, and that his only neighbour down the hill is very rarely in residence.

His neighbour, Marta, was promised the same solitude. A refugee from a family of ex-Soviet crime lords in 'Voynovia', she is involved in the creative industries too. She has come for peace and quiet to complete a film score, on commission from a famous but past his use-by date Italian film-maker called Piero Pacini. She despises Gerry with equal fervour but she has a good heart and when Gerry knocks himself out demolishing an ancient privy that spoils his view, she brings him breakfast the next day.
'Gerree!' she cries, and certainly her voice has no connection whatever with music. It goes right through your head like a bullet, leaving a track of gross tissue damage. 'You are not bedding! Is very good. Look, I bring a break-fast. Yes. Is Voynovian food for dying.' She produces what looks like a ball of putty wrapped in a sock. Is kasha.'

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/08/19/cooking-with-fernet-branca-by-james-hamilton...
( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 19, 2021 |
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As a matter of fact, reading a book over a solitary evening meal in a foreign restaurant is normally one of my greatest pleasures, following the particular enjoyment of choosing a meal from a menu in a language I can't understand. Not knowing what I shall shortly be eating is just as exciting as not knowing what I shall be reading in half a chapter's time.
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Gerald Samper, an effete Englishman, lives on a hilltop in Tuscany. He is a ghostwriter for celebrities, and a foodie, whose weird tastes include 'Mussels in Chocolate and Garlic' and 'Fernet Branca Ice Cream'. His idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta, a vulgar woman from a former Soviet republic now run by gangsters, notably male members of her family. She is a composer in a neo-folk style who claims to be writing a score for a trendy Italian film director. The neighbours' lives disastrously intertwine. The entourages of the rock star and the director come and go; mysterious black helicopters bring news of mayhem in Voynova, Marta's homeland; and along the way the English obsession with Tuscany is satirized mercilessly. World rights for Cooking with Fernet Branca are controlled by Faber. Rights for Germany have already been sold.

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