Book: Finding community through cooking

Angelina’s Bachelors: A Novel, with Food

By Brian O’Reilly

(359 pages, fiction, 2011)

Angelina and Frank are a young couple living in Philadelphia, surrounded by a caring Italian family, and a large network of friends. They have a terrific life together, and a loving relationship. The only thing missing is a child. Angelina has a passion for cooking, and is always happy in the kitchen. Then Frank, still a young man, dies suddenly of a heart attack. Angelina is heartbroken and lost. The only thing that helps her feel a little better is to cook. And she cooks up a storm. But then she has to give all the food away, because she has no one left to cook for. A retired man, Basil Cupertino, moves in across the street with his sister Dottie. Dottie is an awful cook and has started to work nights, so Basil will be on his own for meals. He must fend for himself. Basil has an idea. He asks Angelina if she would cook breakfasts and dinners for him six days a week. And he would pay her well for the groceries and cooking. This works out wonderfully. The word gets out in this close community and soon Angelina is cooking for seven bachelors! They get to know each other and become a kind of family. And they help Angelina when she finds out that she is going to have a baby. This is a heart-warming book about creating a community, and the healing power of cooking and food. Each chapter includes a recipe of a dish that appears in the book, like “Frangelico Chocolate ‘Dream’ Cake,” “Eggs Benedict Florentine,” “Cherry Pear Pie,” “Stracciatella (Roman Egg Drop Soup),” and “Osso Bucco.” There’s a handy recipe index in the back. The author, Brian O’Reilly, is the creator and executive producer of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible. “His chief collaborator is his wife, culinary writer and producer Virginia O’Reilly. In a perfect world, they believe, there’d be pie every day.” I heartily agree! The combination of the food, recipes, and the charming characters make this a very satisfying read.

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Robbin Bailey

Author: Insider Staff

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