Gina Bruschi married Sargent Robert W. Herbert in the only Protestant Church in Rome, Italy. It was October 11, 1945. The war was just concluding and my dad would soon be shipped home with the troops, uncertain of when his bride could join him in The States. She made her wedding suit and would continue to wear it for several years. Dad wore his Army uniform. His parents had never met the bide but the couple had her father's permission to marry and that of his commanding officer. They had known each other 3 weeks.
Finally Bob was able to meet mother's ship, The Vulcana, in New York. After a two day honeymoon he brought her home to Manchester, NH. In this photo she is explaining the geography of Italy to her new mother-in-law, Sadie Herbert. Gina and Bob would live with his parents, Ralph and Sadie for more than a year. Thus began mother's education to American life, cooking and language being prominent.
12 year old Cindy (your author) rests after a tour of the Vatican which explains why her head is covered. This photo was taken by her cousin Bruno. There was a lot of culture and action for a young girl from New Hampshire to take in.
The author always felt fortunate having close family on two sides of the ocean. She often had to stubbornly insist she was Italian due to her coloring - especially the blue eyes - but her spirit and passion were always Italian as is her love of food!
Bruno Tomassini is Gina's oldest nephew, the son of her sister Maria. We lived with his family in 1960. Although he was 21 and an engineering student he still found time to help us tour the city and learn a little Italian. He became a lifelong friend with visits back and forth. Bruno was a resource on many family matters and one recipe during the preparation of this book.
Elena Tomassini Greggi was Bruno's younger sister. She was four years older than the author. A very attractive role model for me as a 12 year old girl. Of my 13 first cousins throughout the world she was the only female, thus it was fated that we become close friends. For years we spoke every Sunday and my husband Roger and I staid in her home and traveled with her and her husband over the course of many wonderful visits. My last trip to Italy was to say arrivederci to her as she was dying from ALS. Her recipes appear in the book and her spirit is still with me.
Photo left to right: Roger, Elena, Cindy, Bruno
Dr. Adams is a Professor Emerita from the University of Connecticut and was a licensed psychologist for over 30 years. After retirement from UCONN she served as a Care Manager for Natchaug Hospital and as Associate Director of Perception Programs, Inc., a non-profit social service agency.
While at the University of Connecticut Dr. Adams was a full professor in the School of Allied Health and the Associate Vice Provost of Multicultural Affairs. She also served as Associate Dean of Allied Health for 8 years. Before writing Italian Spices: A Memoir she wrote three academic books and numerous journal articles. Her research and writing focused on eating disorders, eating disorders and diabetes and women's health issues. Her twice yearly women's health conferences and the series she developed on diabetes education were a part of outreach work for the University of Connecticut.
Italian Spices: A Memoir is her first book for general audiences.
Italian Spices: A Memoir is a richly peopled travelogue and a tasty appreciation of Italian home cooking. In the book, author Cindy Adams connects the story of her mother, a much in love, young war bride who immigrates to the US to be with her GI husband at the close of World War II with her own quest to know and understand her mother's people and culture. From her first visit to Italy at the age of twelve, to her later trips as an adult, Adams is embraced by aunts, uncles, and cousins. She fills the book with recipes and descriptions of her relatives' daily lives. We see her uncle make weekly trips to the countryside to purchase large jugs of light, white wine, which he decants for the table; a family friend's artichoke farm; a bustling market. The book is also a tribute to Gina, Adams' mother, who was not only a good cook, but who ran her own shop, Roma Ladies Wear, in New Hampshire for 25 years. Italian Spices is a testament to what it means to be Italian-American. Written with warmth and charm, it will inspire readers to explore their own roots.
I was surprised by the way Italian Spices: A Memoir took an historical perspective of Italy around WWII and reflected the challenges of a bi-cultural family emerging from the war and into the 50ies. Waspish New England must have been a daunting environment for an Italian war-bride to enter especially as she knew no English and none of her husband’s family. The book shows how a determined woman used her talents as a hard working cook and seamstress, combined with her beauty and charm to thrive as a wife and mother and eventually a store owner. Her recipes and influence on her children made her truly successful. As a registered dietitian I was enthralled by the healthy and fresh use of foods in her version of the Mediterranean diet as shown in her recipes. Once I started Italian Spices I could not put it down until I had read the entire book.
Italian Spices was a delightful read. I was quickly pulled into your family with its sometimes warm and dear, sometimes quirky and amusing moments. I was deeply touched by your relationship with your cousin Elena, especially as she struggled with ALS; and your evolving understanding of your mother and the life she had led. The story, seen initially through the eyes of a sheltered 12 year old American girl then transitions with her as she gains independence and later becomes a successful professional and loving mother and wife with a deep value for both sides of her family. Thank you for taking the reader on this beautiful journey.
“Italian Spices: a memoir” by Cynthia Herbert-Bruschi Adams, will make you smile, laugh and cry, sometimes at once. It will also make you hungry. It is part travelogue, part cookbook, written with affection for her Italian kin and peppered with delicious family recipes. The book recounts the author’s experiences in getting to know her bicultural family. Her mother, Gina Bruschi, was a WWII war bride who fell in love with Robert Herbert, an American soldier in Italy. She left her native country to settle in New Hampshire and raise the author and her siblings. Meanwhile, Gina rose from a young woman in a strange land who did not speak English to the longtime owner of a successful dress shop. There is much to admire in this woman. She and her kin were great cooks, which is partly responsible for my growling stomach while writing this review. I can’t wait to test some of these fresh Italian meals at home. The author’s adventures in Italy over the years make for a breezy, entertaining read. But the interesting, hard-working relatives that she gets to know and love give this book its heart. We should all write down precious memories like these to share with our children and pass on to our grandchildren. This book shows us that there is nourishment in kinship and poetry in ordinary life.
“Italian spices” is an authentic recollection of our days in Rome when my cousin was a child. It, also, touches me and our family very deeply that she came to love us all so much as the years went by. She is a good, deeply Italian girl and we all love her a lot. Cindy è sempre stata la mia cugina prediletta : la piu’ lontana, come l’Italia dall’America, la piu vicina negli affetti e nel cuore, mantenendo così quel legame che a unito mia zia Gina a me , suo primo ipote, con il quale ha trascorso una parte, ia pur breve della Sua meravigliosa esistenza.