Sauce on Sunday

An Ancestral Journey to Find my Sicilian Roots

Non-Fiction - Travel
278 Pages
Reviewed on 09/26/2019
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Author Biography

Janet Sierzant was born in Brooklyn, New York. After moving to Georgia, she graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor’s Degree. She now lives in Vero Beach, Florida and is a member of the Cultural Counsel of Indian River.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

Sauce on Sunday: An Ancestral Journey to Find my Sicilian Roots by Janet Sierzant is a fascinating book that enables readers to experience the sights and sounds of Sicily, its geography, culture, people, and most importantly, the food. The book evokes feelings of nostalgia and takes readers back to the author's past in a very entertaining way as she meets her cousins, grandchildren of the three siblings who were separated during their youth. The blending of the author's discovery of her roots along with the Italian Sicilian culture is engaging and traveling with her becomes fun and entertaining. Her personal experiences and stories while traveling are insightful and interesting. Let us travel around Italy with the author as she connects with her Sicilian roots.

This book is a good read and the author makes it delightful as she combines her desire to trace her ancestral roots and at the same time soak up the flavors of a country to which she actually belongs. The pictures are beautiful and they make the beauty of the place tangible to readers and the recipes are good to savor the delicious Italian food. For all those travelers who are keen to explore places in Italy, this book will be a good guide to help them decide where to go and what to see. Books like this will motivate readers to travel and explore new destinations. The narration is vivid and detailed and, coupled with the pictures, makes Sicily and other places in Italy come alive for readers.

K.C. Finn

Sauce on Sunday is a work of travel and memoir non-fiction penned by author Janet Sierzant. Inspired by a conversation she had with friends, the author set out to explore her Sicilian roots in this volume subtitled: ‘An Ancestral Journey to Find my Sicilian Roots’. The volume covers many different aspects of Sicilian life and culture, including influences on food, traditions, transport, geographical features and the social way of life. Delightful tidbits such as recipes and pictures are included, as well as a slowly developing narrative which eventually turns into a great revelation about family secrets and bonds of culture and heritage being lost and recovered again.

Author Janet Sierzant makes a salient point about how little we really know of our family origins, especially in cases where they have moved across the big wide world, far apart from one another, to seek a new way of living. For travel fans, the recent history and cultural summation of Sicily will certainly be really engaging and entertaining to go through, but for me, the real standout is the deeply personal connection which Sierzant communicates through her heartfelt narrative style. Discovering other relatives and where the paths of their lives have led them, the author’s central journey deftly handles topics of identity, love, and bonding in an easy and enjoyable reading format. Overall, Sauce on Sunday is a highly recommended read for fans of cultural travel non-fiction and leisurely life story reads which also have hidden depths and true familial warmth.

Charles Remington

Sauce on Sunday by Janet Sierzant is subtitled An Ancestral Journey to Find my Sicilian Roots. It is a charming chronicle of the author’s various journeys to Sciacca, a small coastal town in the south of the island. Her efforts to discover living relatives and to try to piece together her family history are vividly described as she travels in the footsteps of her progenitors. Palermo, Sciacca and the various towns she visits are brought to life by her detailed descriptions and the many color photos to be found in the book. We follow the author, sharing in the difficulties and frustrations of long-haul travel and the often less than helpful, sometimes sinister, individuals she encounters. But we also share her joy as she discovers more and more close relatives, becoming part of their lives and enjoying the region’s cuisine and relaxed lifestyle. She becomes enamored with Sciacca and grows increasingly reluctant to leave after each trip. Could she even consider giving up her stressful American life and decamping to the land of her ancestors?

I must admit that in taking up Sauce on Sunday I was expecting to read a fairly detailed genealogical narrative on finding one’s Sicilian family history, so I was a little surprised to find instead a light, chatty travelogue that I could almost recommend as a tourist guide. Her light-hearted descriptions of the towns, the architecture, the places of interest and the cuisine of the area were captivating. The personal touches - having to leave her beloved cat behind in the US, losing her case and being pestered by amorous but wholly unsuitable men - added another dimension, and the discovery of many living relatives brought some drama and a nice harmony to the book, as did the local recipes placed at random throughout the narrative. As a record of the author's search for her Sicilian roots, it worked very well. Sauce on Sunday is an accomplished piece of work from a talented author.