ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Wisdom from Clara's Kitchen: Book Review

Updated on April 4, 2013
Clara's family cooked with fresh, wholesome ingredients.
Clara's family cooked with fresh, wholesome ingredients. | Source
My recipe - but Clara would have made something like this!
My recipe - but Clara would have made something like this! | Source

Wisdom from a Great Depression Cook

Clara Cannuncciari is an unlikely celebrity chef. The 94-year old great-grandmother, however, has penned a wonderful memoir/cookbook called "Clara's Kitchen" (with the help of her grandson, Christopher Cannuncciari) providing not just classic and simple Sicilian recipes, but her memories and tips for surviving and thriving during tough economic times. And Clara should know; she was a teenager during the worst of the Great Depression. When her father was out of work for six years, Clara was forced to quit high school during her sophomore year. She walked five miles to a factory job, work all day, and walk five miles back home - stopping at an empty lot along the way to fill a sack with wild dandelions, burdock and mushrooms, sometimes the only food her family had.

This is a wonderful book. I'll start right off the bat saying that it's a quick read, and if you're looking for a cookbook you'll be disappointed. But it's not meant to replace your Betty Crocker cookbook. Instead, it's as if you're pulling up a chair to the formica kitchen table in Clara's home and listening to her tell stories while she whips up a batch of bread or cooks potatoes and eggs for you. 

So pour yourself a cup of tea, pull back your chair, and listen to these words of wisdom from everyone's great grandma - and celebrity chef Clara Cannucciari.

We Never Asked for Anything

"We never asked for anything and we never knew we lacked anything...because we had no idea what was out there."

Whew! Don't you wish your kids "didn't know what was out there?" When Clara was a girl, she had one doll - which she was not allowed to play with because it was too fancy. She had no toys but what she made for herself. She gives instructions in the book for making paper dolls. She borrowed roller skates from her cousin and patched them together with twine. Would your children do the same?

The Depression, Clara relates, and her financial poverty made her clever, resourceful, and careful. She never asked her parents for fancy toys or games because she had no idea they existed.

From Clara's tales, it becomes abundantly clear that Clara had everything growing up because she had a loving family. She had her parents, she had her brother, she had many cousins and a safe neighborhood to play in. She had strict teachers who instilled in her discipline and a love of learning. And because no one gave her material goods like fancy toys, she learned to use her imagination to create her own games and toys.

We can all learn from Clara!



Healthy and Strong

Clara is 94, and proudly admits that at age 88 she moved her own refrigerator - by herself! She has all her own teeth. "We were bony but strong," she says, speaking about her childhood during the depression.

Because meat was so expensive, the family ate meat only once a week. Their typical meals were potatoes and vegetables, eggs and vegetables, or pasta and vegetables. Her mother made homemade bread. They grew a garden. What they did not eat they canned or preserved. They didn't even have a refrigerator - she remembers her mother saying things like "Clara, would you get the leftovers from last night? They're buried in the snow near the fence." That's right - the family would bury leftovers in snow to keep them cold! Thank goodness they lived in Chicago.

Looking through the recipes in the book, one is struck by how nutritious they are. Most meals are based on greens: spinach, escarole, Chard. Now we know that greens are some of the very best vegetables of all, filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They cooked everything in a bit of olive oil and drank homemade grape wine with meals. And because Clara walked everywhere and was an admitted tomboy, tucking her dresses up into her bloomers so she could play baseball with the boys, she got plenty of exercise.

Her diet lacked the sugar, white flour and refined foods so typical of today, and she got plenty of aerobic and strength training exercise. Clara sprinkles tips liberally throughout the book for healthy living. "Clean your kitchen floor by hand; scrubbing is good exercise" "Why go to a gym when there's a house to clean? You can get plenty of exercise at home." "Walk to the grocery store - you'll buy less because you can only carry so much."

At age 94, Clara is mentally vigorous, physically strong, and healthy in every way. We should all be so lucky! Eating less - and doing without what most of us eat every day, such as sugar and meat, seems to have made her strong and healthy. And normal, every day activities such as walking, cleaning and scrubbing got her "into shape" as much as any gym would.

A Great Book

I enjoy personal essays and write many myself. I also had parents who came of age during the Great Depression, and I greatly admire the "greatest generation." Clara exemplifies all that is wonderful about this generation. There's no whining, no looking to the government for handouts. You made do, or you did without.  She credits the Depression and her childhood and upbringing with making her who she is today. We're all molded by our upbringing to be sure, but it seems as if this generation is tougher than ours, able to withstand more.

The recipes provide simple fare for frugal cooking. If you're looking for tips to save money, Clara gives them - but they may not be what you are looking for. For example, Clara describes the many card and dice games played during the Depression. For today's video game obsessed culture, that may not be of interest - although it certainly provides an inexpensive yet fun way to while away an evening.

Clara's book is a fun evening's read, filled with wisdom from a generation much admired. I hope you enjoy her book as much as I did.

Clara's You Tube Channel

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Fits perfect with the recession & a great hub!

    • rprcarz50 profile image

      rprcarz50 

      8 years ago

      Wonderful work on this Hub . Seems to focus nicely with everything in a downward line

      Thank You

      Ron

      As Always Also a2z50

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)