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Niente Pubblicita Solo Lettere d'Amore

Some thank yous.


I once saw this sign on a door long ago when I first moved to Sardinia. It was a painted blue door with fake pink flowers decorating its frame and just above the letter box was a sign that read ‘no publicity, only love letters’. I took a photo of it, and ferreted away the phrase for future use.


Just as I am learning that it takes a village to raise a child (aunts, uncles, distant cousins, neighbours; the whole of Baratili pitches in for little James Amedeo) so it does to make a book. So here are some love letters of gratitude to the people who made this book happen.


I wanted this to be my most ‘home’ based book and also as close to real-life as possible; we didn’t shoot in a studio but in the tiny granny flat where we live, where poor Charlotte squeezed into a space designed for 5-foot Zia Elvira and Lorenzo washed up and Bechamel (and Holly) and Ferdinando ate all the leftovers. I didn’t want it to be slick and shiny and perfect because that’s not life; instead there is sunshine and shadow and cats and chaos and mess and Mauro’s earth-crusted fingers and Zio Mario picking figs and posing in his Sardinia T-shirt too. 


Many years ago, when I began to dream of really leaving restaurant work and finally doing my own thing, my (ever frank) father sat me down and said:


‘Now remember sweetheart, you will never be commercial’.


Much like with the weekly letters he used to address to me (Professional Weirdo, Flat 10B, London) to a non-Clark family eye this may seem derogatory, damning even, but knowing my Dad as I do what he really meant was that not being commercial can also be a good thing. Sales are nice and of course, hugely welcome when they come, but not the reason I write. The mantra I keep in my mind as I make anything is, make it well, and make it something you are proud of and something you believe in, and then the rest will sort itself out. If I love something, hopefully other people will too. Writing, someone once said, is about making people care. I hope that is the case with this book.


Now of course it’s not perfect, but that’s how it should be, and it took a lot of work and a lot of people to make it this perfectly imperfect too. So here, finally, are my thanks to the people who have made Wild Figs and Fennel the wonderful, magical mess that it is.


My mum, who had high hopes for a peaceful retirement writing her long-awaited romance novel, and instead found herself once again acting as my unofficial recipe tester and copy editor.  


My dad, who took me to hunt my first mushroom, and instilled in me a deep love of walking and food (which combine perfectly in foraging). Also for his very British trait that I have inherited of always talking about the weather. 


Mauro and Monica Putzolu, for their support, food, love, advice, encouragement and knowledge. Mauro for his stories and his love for campagna, Monica for her generosity and her brusque and brilliant efficiency, and to both for their spirit of fun and discovery.


Zio Mario, for his figs, his zucchini, and his stories.


Luigi Manias, for honey and help and his brilliant bee-keeping 100-year-old aunt Vera who restores all faith in life.


Holly Peters for good company and help.


Charlotte Bland for always going that little bit further, waking up that little bit earlier and suffering a few more mosquitoes, hot pink bedrooms and heatwaves to get the very best shots. You manage to capture Sardinia as she is, in all her imperfect perfection. May you always be blessed with plenty of figs and fennel.


Allegra Pomilio for her recipe for strawberries marinated with citrus blossoms.


Emily Preece-Morrison for whittling down what was an entire years’ worth of rambling and kitchen clutter into the sleek and gleaming beast you now hold in your hands.  


Kajal Mistry and Emma Hopkin, and all the team at HG HQ, for everything they did behind the scenes. To my agent Anne, who took me on in the first place, which was nothing if not courageous (or crazy).


Tamara Vos for jumping in and saving the day with her beautiful styling and cooking.


Daniel New for his brilliant design and seemingly endless patience. And his last minute illustrations which make the book truly special.


And finally to Saint Lorenzo, or as he is better known, Lorenzo Putzolu, the most patient man I know, and the very best, too. Your passion for history and your hunger have kept me excited about this book even when the chips were so far down they were sotterraneo. You washed dishes and grilled aubergines and kept up morale the whole way through. For 9 months of cooking this book all I could taste was metal (a fun symptom of pregnancy) and all I could stomach were white sliced and cheese sandwiches, so if any of these recipes are delicious it is thanks to your scrupulous tasting notes.


 And of course, to our boy, James Amedeo, “Santino”, nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful, full of joy and fun you would be. Thank you for making me feel thoroughly ill throughout most of the making/cooking of this book, but then appearing and with one toothless grin making everything else seem irrelevant. I love you more than you will probably ever know. This book is for you.  

1 Comment

han gu
han gu
Jul 04

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