The Malta Independent 26 March 2019, Tuesday

More than just recipes

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 6 November 2018, 09:36 Last update: about 6 months ago

Marie Benoît reads PETER APAP BOLOGNA’S latest book: ‘Eating with Grandpa Apap’ and enjoys the narrative and the recipes

While it is possible to Google for many recipes, I love my well-thumbed books and my folder of recipes, recipes that I have cut out for me to try out, or more importantly, unpublished recipes given to me over the years by friends and family, mostly hand-written and which I cherish.

Before setting out to write his Eating with Grandpa Apap - Around the World in Fusion and Confusion  Peter must have been, together with Alaine, creating and collecting recipes in a similar but I am certain, more organised, way. This book records meals eaten with friends and family over the last year, and each recipe shows the date on which it was cooked. 


What makes Peter's book different is that the illustrations are not only of dishes eaten, and the ingredients imaged, but also of those who have cooked and enjoyed them. There are anecdotes, too, and where appropriate the history and legend of a recipe. 

In the blurb Peter writes: "This is not a cookery book, I am not qualified to write such a book. It is more a narrative of meals I have eaten most of them cooked and photographed by me. Collecting books has always been my passion, and now I am into cookbooks, thus the subtitle "Around the World in Fusion and Confusion.""

The recipes include local and traditional food such as Alaine's version of Mqarrun fil-Forn. Fazola Bajda, Bigilla and Ful all have a place in his kitchen. Pulpetti and Bragioli could not possibly be left out. Nor could Fenkata and Qarabali Mimli.

The soups range from a Brodetto to Gazpacho, Kawlata, spiced vegetable soup and even the exotic Tom Yum spicy prawn (my favourite).

When Peter's daughter Kate and his grandson Thomas came to stay in June this year they prepared "a splendid Asian feast of pearl balls, wontons and spring rolls." 

There are curries and an intriguing and what seems to be a rather complicated recipe for Nasi Goreng, a fried rice dish with many and various ingredients, a popular dish throughout South East Asia.

I must say the Classic East European Potato Salad is much more interesting than the one I produce.

Peter and Alaine gave a lunch party in May held in honour of Peter's cousin, Professor John Gatt Rutter - biographer of Italo Svevo, friend of James Joyce. John was visiting from Australia. I enjoyed that lunch very much as not only was the food excellent but conversation stimulating with many clever people at table. The main course that day was Oma's Dolmas - a very popular dish with the family and which comes from Alaine's Armenian grandmother as did the recipe of the Persian pilaff which accompanied it. 

Pasta makes an important presence in this delightful book. There's Happiness pasta with fusilli, aubergines, pine nuts and ricotta; tagliatelle al burro e salvia; tagliatelle with wild boar ragù and more.

A couple of restaurants get a mention:  Da' Pippo Trattoria because there they had a 'fun lunch' with his visiting daughter Kate and her family but also because in the 1960s the same premises were occupied by Nico's Bistro in which Peter was a partner. His bachelor party took place there in 1968.

Saffron, in Paceville, too, gets a mention simply because it is Alaine and Peter's favourite Indian restaurant.                                                    

Eating with Grandpa Apap has many blessings including an index and glossary.

It is an interesting and at the same time 'useful' read. I cannot wait to try out some of the more unusual recipes.

Eating with Grandpa Apap is published by Peter at the Salesian Press. It is an elegant, well-produced book, with a dust jacket specially painted by George Large. The price is €25.

It is distributed by BDL Book Distributors Ltd, and will be on show at the Book Festival on 7 November. It is also available from the Salesian Press.






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