I've been enjoying Pomp and Sustenance by Mary Taylor Simeti, whose other books I've enjoyed in the past. Sicilian heritage, she shows, is rich with food writing. Simeti starts us off with Homer -- remember the roast meats whose aromas waft up to please the gods? Remember the gardens in the land of the Cyclops? That was Sicily, with pomegranates, pears, apples, figs, olives, and grape vines.
Archestratus of Gela, Sicily, in the fourth century BC wrote about roast tuna sprinkled with vinegar. Plato mentioned "gorging food twice a day" in Sicily. The fish and vegetables of the ancient isle compare remarkably to the deliciacies of Simeti's twentieth-century life on a farm with her own olive oil and her own produce.
She offers classic recipes: pasta with eggplant, oil, basil, ricotta and tomatoes. Pasta with fresh sardines, fennel, pine nuts, currants, saffron, and toasted breadcrumbs. She discusses the influence of the Arabs a millenium later.
She makes me want to go back to Sicily. Or at least try to cook some of these dishes or read some classics. I'm lazy. I'll just peruse her book.