Bitter Almonds by Mary Taylor-Simeti, Maria Grammatico (Paperback, 2002)

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In the early 50s, Maria Grammatico and her sister were sent by their impoverished mother to the San Carlo, a cloistered orphanage in Erice, an ancient hill town on the western coast of Sicily. At 22, Maria left the orphanage with no personal possessions, minimal schooling and no skills other than what she carried in her head and hands - the knowledge acquired during a childhood spent preparing delicacies for other people's celebrations.