"Living with Taste"
Creative Tuscan cooking by Jamal Amin
About travel stories and recipes in our agriturismo (Farm House) Villa Poggio Di Gaville my cookbook is a compliation of my journey through life thus far. I share my experience and recipes with you, and hope in small way, I can enhance your journey here too.
Why read this book
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art”
Leonardo Da Vinci
In May 2014, my husband and I accompanied his father and stepmother to Italy. During our trip, we spent four days at Villa Poggio di Gaville. My experience at the agriturismo had a lasting effect on me. So much so that I left my corporate marketing job and have opened my own culinary marketing firm.
The spirit of the villa is mystical. It’s the perfect combination of serene nature, beautiful décor, delicious meals and lively conversation with guests from around the world. But it’s greatest attribute is it’s warm hearted and generous host, Jamal, who puts his heart into making sure you had the best stay imaginable and the best meals in all of Italy. I suppose the combination of the villa’s beauty is almost like the ingredients in a recipe that, when combined, make the perfect dish: a dash of this, a pinch of that, perfecto! It’s a work of art. It’s Jamal’s art, which is a union of pleasures that play on the senses and are not obvious to the intelligence until, in the end, one is left with a spiritual communion and a new inner light. To sum it up you leave feeling like, “oh my God, what hit me?” I think many of Jamal’s guests leave the villa with a mild touch of Stendahl Syndrome otherwise known as Florence Syndrome. If you have never heard of the syndrome, it is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and in extreme cases, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations. This can happen when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art. The illness is named after the 19th-century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Marie-Henri Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence in his book ,Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio. When Stendhal visited the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Niccolò Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei are buried, he saw Giotto's frescoes for the first time and was overcome with emotion. Stendhal wrote, “I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty... I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul.” That is the beauty of Villa Poggio di Gaville, Jamal, and now his cookbook – they all will leave a metaphyscal impression that speaks directly to your soul.
A stay at Jamal’s Agriturismo and the journey through his cookbook have many similarities. Tour the Agriturismo with Jamal and he will tell you stories of the many antiques he brought to the villa from his travels around the world. Taste Jamal’s cooking and it’s as if your taste buds were awakened after a long sleep. Converse with Jamal and you are enlightened by his unique and philosophical perspective of the world, of life, and his quest for balance and harmony. Like the magical experience that transforms one at his Villa, Jamal brilliantly delivers the same feeling through his cookbook. As you turn the pages of this book. you will embark on a metaphysical journey through travel, cooking, and inner growth. The journey starts with Jamal in Palestine with his Mother, his inspiration and ends in Cambodia with his beautiful daughter, Samira. Along his journey Jamal stops off in Mexico and learns a lesson in waiting while standing in line for tacos; he earns the difference between having and giving before consuming Coconut Cockerel with a monk in Burma, and finds inspiration from the smiling faces and kindness of the people in Cambodia. It is a personal passage that like the beautiful, worldly treasures in his villa, Jamal is generous enough to share. In the end, Jamal leaves us longing for more. So get ready to travel with Jamal, be his companion and listen intently as he fills your mind with interesting stories that have inspired every recipe in this book. In the end you’ll feel your mental state altered, and maybe even a mild case of ‘Jamal Syndrome”. No worries, if that happens the easy cure is to head into the kitchen and start cooking.
Culinary Marketing consultant /Publicist
Karen J. Fleming,LLC
What they say about the book
‘I recommend you read this book and try the recipes. You’ll be amazed what gems you’ll manage to create‘
Daphne Van Roosmalen from Holland
‘Jamal’s recipes never lack two fundmental ingredients. A smile and some love. You can see, smell and tate them in every dish.
Monica Harrison , San Francesco USA
‘A true journey of the the senses. We returned several times to the Villa to dine with Jamal. Everyday a new menu. The food was simply the best of our three week stay in Italy’.
Virginia Debie, Oxford, UK
‘Worthy of an Oscar. I’m a cook and met Jamal on one of his cookery courses – which was much more than a course…. We learned to use our 5 senses, chopping onions to music cooking with other guests from all over the world. It was a unique experience which changed my life’
Noemi Barcilet, Australia
‘Beyond all expectations. You can never imagine such refined food in an agriturismo. Chef Jamal surpised and delighted us with his careful prepared dishes. Surprise menus which truly astonish you’
Yannik Beckmann, Germany.
↽ My hospitality ⇁