The next stop on my Chocolate Book Blog Tour is with Italian-American author, Joanna M. Leone. I met Joanna about five years ago as she was in the process of writing her book, Slices of Life Italian-American Stories. Reading her book is like taking a tour through some of the most charming sunlit hillside towns of Italy, tucked away from the crowds, you get to experience the country like a native, soaking in all the details that welcome you into family and sharing a meal together.
Joanna M. Leone
I selected two chocolates to pair with Joanna’s book, Slices of Life Italian-American Stories. The first is Terry’s Orange Chocolate, so elegantly wrapped in blue foil that you whack firmly but gently on the table before unwrapping and the orange segments neatly come apart. Joanna’s book is made up of juicy, bittersweet true stories of Italian-Americans, their struggles, joys, memories, traditions, each offering a unique perspective on family values. Joanna stands strong in her roots, but the cultural concepts are universal.
I feel even more so connected to Joanna’s book because I’m one of the her stories, ‘Italian-American in Florence!’ My story recalls my time in Florence, absorbing all I could about art and life, finding my way around a new and old city, learning shortcuts (in the kitchen too), and meeting extraordinary people over a cup of coffee. But even beyond being included in her collection of stories, I feel connected to all the other people featured in her book who left their home in hopes of finding themselves, finding work, making a better life for now and the future. I feel connected to the people holding on tightly to their words, memories, and traditions that are released into the air hoping that they too will be planted, cultivated, and remembered.
This brings me to the second chocolate pairing, Pocket Coffee. Ferrero Pocket Coffees are red and cocoa colored cubes of chocolate that look like treasures, and inside a luscious liquid shot of espresso fills the cavity and when consumed, the aroma lingers on your breath. Meeting the people in Joanna’s book is like sharing a cup of coffee with a friend, sharing intimate stories and secrets that seem to flow more easily when a jolt of espresso is running through you. And then when you leave and they leave, the scent of coffee still dallies playfully in your hair and the air around you.