I find it very pleasant to enter a bookstore and browse through the shelves on the wall and the exhibitions on the ground looking for something that catches my attention, even in the gardening corner (even though I’m able to make plastic flowers die). I couldn’t help but notice that “Fifty Shades of Gray, Black and Red” is at the top of the sales, outdistancing other authors by many lengths, even the cooking ones :).
A secret that an editor told me a few years ago thus came back to mind, that, “if you insert themes that refer to sex, religion and food in the plot, success will be guaranteed”. How can you disagree if you think that the first chapter of the world’s best-selling book talks about sex: the Bible, Old Testament, Genesis and Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise. Definitely not because they had started smoking the leaves of the tree of knowledge.
I confess that on vacation I leafed through the first pages of “Fifty Shades of Gray”, lent to me by a neighbor, and I thought of the true erotic literature, of Paris and Berlin in the 1930’s, of the manifestations of sensuality, sometimes also raw, that breathe on the pages written by Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Vladimir Nobokov. Starting with the Song of Songs, slipping away with Sappho and Ovid, taking a stroll through parts of Boccaccio, Aretino, Ruzzante and the Anonymous Venetian, relaxing a bit with Casanova, then starting off again at a great gallop with Diderot, De Sade, Colette and d’Annunzio and, skipping the twentieth century (already mentioned above), arriving at the banality of “One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed” and even “Fifty Shades of Gray”, whose screenplay will surely be acquired by some American heavyweight to make the scandalous film of the 2013-2014 cinematographic season.
Titles like “Story of O”, “The Ages of Lulu”, and “Diary of a Nymphomaniac” have also been translated into film – largely disappointing those who had read the book first. The reasons are very simple: “common decency” – which succeeds in censoring any screenplay – and the imagination of the reader himself, which can transform the protagonist into a sexual athlete, into Fantozzi* or… our partner of the moment.
Let’s face it, how can we compare the greedy lips and hot-chill dispensing hands (which so resemble those of the pilot officers described by Liala** or in the Harmony series) who knot silk ties and scarves or wield leather whips and gags with the undershirt dribbled with sauce and beer of our snack partners? All we have left of those candles lit to set the mood is the wax to collect on the cloth covering the hope chest, while the silk nightgown that reveals desires that are difficult to conceal becomes a pair of jersey pajamas two sizes too small with Superman’s “S” printed on the front. Oh yes, I think that the female imagination has infinite potential if what my neighbor, a very elegant lady in her seventies, told me when she lent me the book is true: “You see, I’ve done or know about at least half of the things in the book. It’s my husband who should read it.”
Banana and chocolate icecream with lavender (and maybe a little chili powder)
Ingredients (for 6 servings)
For the chocolate icecream:
- 5/8 cup of whole milk
- 5/8 cup of cream
- 3/8 cup of powdered sugar
- 3 organic egg yolks
- 4-1/4 oz. of dark chocolate (54-72%)
- a hint of freshly ground chili pepper (if desired).
For the banana icecream:
- 2 cups of whole milk
- 5/8 cup of granular sugar
- 5 organic egg yolks
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 organic lemon
- one tablespoon of lavender
- one tablespoon of clarified butter.
Chocolate ice cream directions:
Boil the milk, cream, and half of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until they are fluffy and foamy, pour the milk on the egg mixture, mix well and put back on low heat, cooking until it “veils” a wooden spoon (in other words, covers the wooden spoon, take care, with just a “veil” of cream).
Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and melt it, stirring it with a whisk. Now add, if you like, the chili powder.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, straining it with a Chinese strainer, and let it cool; put it in the ice-cream maker and stir for approximately 30’.
Banana ice cream directions:
Boil the milk with 1/4 cup of sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks with another 1/4 cup of sugar until they are fluffy and foamy, pour the milk on the egg mixture, mix well and put back on low heat, cooking until it “veils” a wooden spoon (in other words, covers the wooden spoon, take care, with just a “veil” of cream). Strain the cream with a Chinese strainer, put it in a bowl and set it aside.
Now sauté the banana, cut into slices, with the butter and the remaining sugar for 2’, lightly caramelizing it. Add the lemon juice and then everything as with crème anglaise.
Blend the mixture, pass it through the strainer and transfer it to a bowl to let it cool. At this point, add 1/3 of the lavender. Transfer it into the ice-cream maker and stir for approximately 20’.
Offer the ice cream to your guests, portioning out both flavors and garnishing with the remaining lavender.
*Ed. Note: Fantozzi is an Italian comic character from the Seventies and typifies the unhappy, frustrated middle-class man.
**Ed. Note: Liala is an Italian novelist of the second part of the 20th century, author of many romantic novels.