Back in May, I gave you some suggestions for great summer reads for food lovers. Several of them were books about people who moved to France or Italy and immersed themselves in the food culture. I have another book to add to the list: The Dolce Vita Diaries. If you can’t get it read by the end of summer, by all means, read it whenever you can.
Cathy Rogers and Jason Gibb, originally from England, found themselves in successful careers as TV reality show producers in L.A. who felt that they had “done telly for long enough” and decided they’d like a new life. You know what? They actually went out and got a new life. They didn’t sit around talking about what they wanted to do for too long. They made a choice and jumped right in with wellie-covered feet.
The choice they made was to make olive oil, and of course, they chose Italy as the place to do it.
The book takes us through their decision to make olive oil, their experience with one real estate agent after another who showed them house after house in Le Marche, Italy, the renovations of their new home, their move, and eventually their painstaking but incredibly satisfying first press of their own olive oil. Oh ya, and in the middle of it all, they had a baby.
Along the way they come up with a scheme to sell their olive oil, which they grow and process as naturally as possible. They formed a company called Nudo and created an adopt-an-olive-tree program. People can pay to adopt one of their olive trees and receive olive oil from their very own tree.
I loved this book that’s told from Cathy and Jason’s perspective because they are totally honest about the entire experience. It doesn’t all run smoothly. Their Italian isn’t that great. The weather doesn’t cooperate. There’s a “stupid Welsh hippy” who throws a big wrench in the works, too.
Still, they describe each new experience in a way sucks me in and makes me wish I was there with them — even when they are carrying heavy crates of olives up muddy hills in the rain. For me, being sucked into others’ experiences is what makes a book like this worth reading. I’m one of the many people who would say to Cathy and Jason, “I just wish I could do something like this. You lucky things.” Since I’m actually not doing something like this, their book allows me to get lost in Cathy and Jason’s world and imagine myself there for a while.
I have to mention the recipes, too. In between each chapter are recipes for the foods that they discovered in Italy. Delicious, comforting, Italian foods made with local, seasonal ingredients. Yum.