Weekend Cooking: The Umbrian Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi


I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to participating.


Title: The Umbrian Supper Club

Author: Marlena de Blasi

Published: Allen & Unwin March 2015

Status: Read from March 20 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

“A good supper…restores to us the small delights that the day ransacks. Through crisis and catastrophe, and rare moments of uninterrupted joy, it’s the round, clean and imperishable wisdom that sustains them: cook well, eat well and talk well with people who are significant to your life.”

Every Thursday night for decades a small group of Umbrian women, occasionally accompanied by the their husbands or lovers, have met in an old stone house belonging to Miranda to share their supper. Under sheaves of dried olive branches, seated on plank benches, they have laughed, cried, cooked and eaten together.

Befriended by Miranda, Marlena De Blasi, an American chef, journalist and food critic who has made her home in rural Orvieto, was invited to join the women, taking a place at the table every Thursday, delighting in both the food, and the stories each woman has to tell.

In The Umbrian Supper Club, Marlena shares what she learned of the lives of the four women members – Miranda, Ninuccia, Paolina and Gilda, as she joined with each in preparing Thursday night suppers over a period of four years.

The women’s stories are moving and fascinating, aged between 52 and 80 something, they have lived full lives. They have variously been wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and lovers, they have endured heartache, loss, poverty and celebrated love, friends, and food. They speak, as the gather, prepare and cook their supper of childhood, family, aging, sexuality, of the evil eye, the Mafia, religion, of life and death.

“‘I wish life could end all even, like a supper when there’s that last little roasted potato with a single needle of rosemary clinging to its crust and the end of a sausage, charred to a crunch, a heel of bread, the last long pull of wine. Even. Everything in harmony. I have always preferred that last bit of my supper to the first, the beginning being fraught with hunger, the last with serenity. As life should be. Every supper can be a whole life'”

Full of mouthwatering descriptions of food preparation and feasting, The Umbrian Supper Club will delight any foodie. Crusty bread freshly baked in a woodfire oven is dipped in oil pressed by a donkey driven mill, pasta is simmered in litres of local red wine, thyme leaves are stripped from their branches to flavour scored duck breasts.
Several full recipes of traditional Umbrian dishes, such as Zucca Arrostita and La Crostata di Pere e Pecorino adapted for the modern cook, are included, but plenty of cooking advice is informally dispensed through the pages.

“In a basket on the worktable there are perhaps a dozen heads of garlic, the purple colour of the cloves bright beneath papery skins. Slapping head after head with the flat of the cleaver, she scrapes the smashed, unpeeled cloves into a five-litre jug of new oil in which she’s earlier stuffed leaves of wild sage, wild fennel flowers, rosemary,a fistful of crushed, very hot chillies. She is building one of her famous potions. Violence, she calls it. She uses it to gloss vegetables before tumbling them into the roasting pan, to massage into loins of pork and the breasts and thighs of her own fat chickens, to drizzle over burning hot charcoaled beef and veal.”

The Umbrian Supper Club is a delightful true story of family, friendship and food.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Seasoned Traveller 2015

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie C
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 02:17:10

    Sounds like a great club to belong to!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Trish
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 02:27:12

    Ok that description of the bread, olive oil, pasta, and roasted duck breast has me drooling!! Sounds like a delicious read.

    Liked by 2 people


  3. Beth F
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 04:27:31

    Oh wow. This sounds like my kind of book. Yum. This is new to me, and now I have to go find myself a copy.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Diane La Rue (@bookchickdi)
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 04:35:19

    How much fun would it be to be a part of that supper club?

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Kay
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 04:41:02

    Yum, yum, yum! What a descriptive passage you shared – I could almost smell it. Not sure I could read it without food in hand. LOL

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Brona
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:31:23

    Darn, my TBR wishlist has just grown by one!!

    Liked by 2 people


  7. Fiction-Books (@Fiction_Books)
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 09:54:02

    Hi Shelleyrae,

    Reading your post, I am actually sad that I don’t read non fiction. This book sounds like such a delight and so beautifully descriptive.

    When we were much younger and first married, a few of us young Royal Air Force couples, used to get together as a small supper club once a month, in alternating houses.

    ‘The Umbrian Supper Club’ brings back happy memories and I just love the first couple of quotes you feature from the book.

    Thank you for sharing and for stopping by Fiction Books earlier. I love meeting new people, so your visits will always be welcome and your comments always appreciated.

    Have a great week 🙂




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