Book #69: Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil. Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction

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A short sublime book on the three things dearest to Jean-Claude Izzo’s heart: his native Marseilles, the sea in all its splendor, and Mediterranean noir – the literary genre his books helped to found. This collection of writings shows Izzo, author of the acclaimed Marseilles trilogy, at his most contemplative and insightful. His native city, with its food, its flavors, , its passionate inhabitants, and its long, long history of commerce and conviviality, constitute the lifeblood that runs through all of Izzo’s work.

Author: Jean-Claude Izzo
Publisher: Europa Editions (May 7, 2013)
Chapters: 13 wonderful short stories
Pages: 107

The founder of the modern Mediterranean noir movement, Izzo passed away in 2000 at the age of fifty-five. He was the son of immigrant parents: a Naples barman and a Spanish seamstress. He used this experience in his work to make it more realistic.

This book was TERRIFIC!

The writer blew my rooftop off!

Izzo’s stories showed passionate affection and love for his beloved Marseilles and Mediterranean coast. Nostalgia at its best. I wish I can write that way about Trinidad. I was there with him as I took that visionary trip to Marseilles. I could taste the food, smell the air and hear the people. I took a vacation without leaving the comfort of my bed and I loved it!

The beautiful list:

THE MEDITERRANEAN AND ITS NOIR

The Mediterranean: Possibilities for Happiness

Wherever he travelled, he took with him ‘a geography of possibilities for happiness’. He discovered, loved and appreciated his country for what it was.

Listening to the Sea

Just what the title says.

I Am At Home Everywhere

“It’s when I think about them that my feet start to itch, and I take out my cardboard suitcase and dream of setting off. To go and meet them, and share what we have in common, the pleasure of the universe. The pleasure I taste when, at home, in the still of the air of summer and noon, I read Louis Owens and put myself in the shoes of an Indian.”

This was one of my absolute favorite shorts to read and I treasure it because I can relate. Books take us to places beyond our front doors and we escape reality, but, for a short time “With a guidebook in our hands and a return ticket in our pockets.” Sometimes I wish I did not have to return.

The Blue and the Black

This story is basically about how Greek tragedies were born.

“In the beginning of the Book. And that moment in which Cain kills his brother Abel. In the blood of this fratricide, the Mediterranean gives us the first noir novel.

There may have been other murders before this, but this one is written down and establishes forever the singular problem of mankind: that crime is the driving force that, over the centuries, will govern relationships between people. Whoever they are. Masters or servants. Princes or emperors. Free men or slaves. In the beginning, indeed, all the motives for murder already existed. Envy, jealousy. Desire, fear. Money. Power. Hatred. Hatred of others. Hatred of the world.”

There is something truthfully chilling in those words! The Bible is there for us to learn from. It is there to make sure that mankind does not make the same mistakes as their ancestors once did, but alas! We’re living in terrible times where people don’t care about their own sanity.

MARSEILLES

Marseilles is in my Heart

“I was born in Marseilles. Of an Italian father and a Spanish mother. One of those crossbreeds to which this city holds the secret. Nobody is ever born in Marseilles by chance. Marseilles is, and has always been, the port of exiles, of Mediterranean exiles, of exiles from former colonial routes, too.”

I Like to Feel Marseilles Pulsating Beneath My Tongue

All about food!

“As many people have said: there is no innovation in the cuisine of Marseilles, no fusion, just self-perpetuation. Eating takes us back to our countries. To sit down to a meal, whether at home or in a restaurant, with our families or with our friends, is to recover our memories.”

Garlic

“The first girl I ever kissed smelled of garlic. It was in a hut in Les Goudes, at that hour on a summer’s day when adults take an afternoon nap. I learned, that year I turned fifteen, to love garlic.”

Mint

“We love mint for its smell. It’s the most popular. Ask us to name a plant that smells good, and it is mint, and only mint, that comes to mind.”

Basil

Another one of his favorite smells.

Here, My Darling, Taste This

“Words exchanged amid the noise and bustle: “Fire! Fire! My watermelon’s on fire!” Spoken in that drawling accent that takes time to say things. “Here, my darling, taste this!”

Marseilles: A Musical Trading Post

The music of the city that captivated his soul.

Marseilles Between Sea and Light

An ode to the sea and the bay.

FABIO MONTALE

Fabio Montale’s Christmas Dinner

I want to read more of this Montale character.

Jean-Claude Izzo on Fabio Montale

Fabio Montale’s Favorite Places

Fabio Montale’s Music

Fabio Montale’s Books

I recommend this book for foodies, Francophile, and literature lovers.

VERDICT:

4

EXTRA!

Enjoy the beautiful view of Marseille. ❤

NEXT UP:

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The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

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October 16th: Honorific

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October 16th is officially declared “Person X Day” — and you get to pick Person X. Tell us about someone who deserves to be commemorated.

Well, this is a tough one because there are so many people in my life that deserve to be commemorated. Today, I choose to commemorate every single one of you reading this post. I just want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I do appreciate every comment that you share. You are incredibly awesome! 🙂

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