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Patrizia Chen’s childhood was suffused with the scent of simmering pots of cacciucco — a local, hearty seafood stew — and of the pittosporum blooming along the Tuscan coast. Her family’s house and sumtuous garden in the Italian seaside town of Livorno are at the center of this captivating book that weaves together simple, delicious recipes with a love of home, family, nature, cutom, and, above all, food.The family cook, Emilia, a feisty, temperamental woman from a nearby fishing vilage, dutifully produces bland white dishes for every family meal, as dictated by Patrizia’s grandfather.

But behind the kitchen door it’s a different story. One day seven-year-old Patrizia is led by a wonderful smell into the kitchen, where Emilia is preparing a spicy red sauce bursting with garlic and onion. With one bite, Patrizia becomes hooked. In the spacious, sun-drenched ktichen and adjoining herb garden, Emilia takes Patrizia under her wing, disclosing the secrets of her favorite Tuscan dishes.

Through vivid descriptions and charming anecdotes, Chen brings to life the white Carrara marble terraces, the coal-burning stoves, antique roses, and sacks of chestnut flour that fill the family house, kitchen, and garden. This delightful and evocative narrative will welcome you into the heart of Patrizia’s Tuscan home and allow you to bring the robust flavours of Emilia’s cooking into your own kitchen.

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Goong-Goong is a journey of discovery.  Patrizia Chen, who grew up with all the traditions of an Italian family, married into a Chinese family, where she was fascinated and puzzled by the myriad photographs of old Shanghai: the elegant weddings, exclusive club-like settings, sumptuous homes, and expensive cars. Inquisitive, she fielded questions, yet... no one knew about the stories. Only her father-in-law, shipping magnate C.Y. Chen (or Goong-Goong, as she always respectfully referred to him) was the key to unlocking the family history.    

In the years to come, the once prickly relationship between inquisitive Patrizia and reserved Goong-Goong warmed to become one of profound joy and deep meaning; Patrizia knew that she had to write the story of this remarkable man and the family that took her in with open arms; about unusual traditions; about fascinating people, places, anecdotes and stories — the stuff of novels — that proved to be real once she began to study the history of the Chen family and the unique meeting of East and West.

Tango. The word conjures up steamy images of sexy, high-heeled dancers, lovers embracing and yearning music – and an axotic world that seems so foreign from our own. Yet tango is a discipline and an art form that can be learned and is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. It is a dance of passion and longing that requires embracing your partner, lookin in their eyes and abandoning yourself to the music and to each other. Dancing tango can change lives. Just ask author Patrizia Chen.


Since writing her first book, the acclaimed food memoir, Rosemary and Bitter Oranges: Growing Up in a Tuscan Kitchen (2003), Chen, an Italian living in Manhattan, began tanto lessons and is now an avid dancer with her own students. She travels often to Buenos Aires, where tango was born and still thrives, and writes frequently about tango for various publications. Now, in her sensual and entertainin novel. IT TAKES TWO (Scribner, November 3, 2009, $24.00), Chen immerses us in the world of tango and reveals how lives are altered and passions stirred by the energy of the dance.


Francesca Rivabuona is fifty, living in New York City, stalled in a sexless marriage. When she gets a writing assignment in Buenos Aires, she leaps at the chance and soon finds herself in this captivating city at her first tango lesson. Under the tutelage of the charming Luis, she learns the steps and the etiquette of tango — and feels alive for the first time in years. When she embarks on an affair with Roberto, the most famous plastic surgeon in town, she must decide where her happiness lies and how – or if – to return to her life in the States.


IT TAKES TWO is infused with Chen’s passion and knowledge about her subjects, bringing vividly to life the city of Buenos Aires and it’s food, nighlife, and opeople as well as the intricate world of tango. Pulsing with charm, humor and romance, IT TAKES TWO is a captivating woman’s story that will have readers signing up for tango lessons – and a new way of living.

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"Lavinia and Blu" is a book that came into existence by chance, like many others. When Lavinia was two years old and had a new baby sister, the nights were difficult and filled with nightmares. Her grandmother would then rush to her room and invent stories about the countryside and culinary adventures of a beautiful little girl and her friend, a blue elephant. It is well known that elephants are excellent cooks, thanks to the flexibility of their trunks; for them, stirring sauces and kneading dough is child's play. By the end of the story, Lavinia would fall asleep...


Thus, during the Covid lockdown, a book was born that was meant to be a simple birthday gift, made and printed at home. Then came La Zattera Edizioni, and things changed...


The book is divided into four chapters, one for each season. Lavinia and Blu's escapades always have a gastronomic purpose, and between their little adventures, the two discover the olive press, the mill, the orchard, and the vegetable garden, with their wonderful products.


At the end of each chapter, Lavinia and Blu cook a simple recipe, which is written out and adapted for children, complete with space for their notes. Of course, these activities should be done under adult supervision!

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