Mary-Grace Fahrun is the writer and creator of Rue’s Kitchen, a well-known website dedicated to keeping the Italian kitchen magic alive. She is also a Reiki master and a registered nurse. As the daughter of immigrant Italian parents, she was born and raised in Connecticut with lots of family who she learned her family’s customs from. Finding it important to keep her families practices alive, she shares these secrets, recipes, folklore, and home remedies in her new book Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery.

Fahrun's practice is centered in kitchen magic. Because of this she helps the reader to de-clutter, organize and stock their kitchen the way that is appropriate for someone who treats their kitchen as a sacred space. The reader can also expect to learn the kitchen do’s and don’ts that is fundamental in Italian magic superstitions. Fahrun assists the reader in setting up their own home altars. Different types of altars are discussed, as well as their uses and their necessity in different circumstances. She encourages uniqueness in this process while still providing guidance on how to properly arrange altars for all purposes throughout the entire home inside and out.

This book provides some key recipes that have been important in Fahrun’s family throughout the years. These recipes are traditional Italian dishes that can be relied on for holidays year after year.  Dinners appropriate for holidays, celebrations, or even specific days of the week are all included here.

Home remedies that have been passed down year after year are shared with the reader. These remedies are from everything from fending off the evil eye to recovering from the common cold. Reworked as needed do to availability do to nature or the times, these are tried and tested by the Fahrun family for many years.  Fahrun shows how in the Italian custom, even the most mundane of tasks, ritual and spells can be weaved. She introduces the reader to correspondences that are commonly used in her traditions. Things from important days, colors, ingredients, tools, etc.

This book is inclusive to many religious belief systems. It introduces magic and ritual in the context of Italian Roman Catholic view. Fahrun will explain that the superstition and customs of her family were never explained as witchcraft or magic when she was a child but that is what they clearly are. With strong relationships with the Saints and rituals and altars dedicated to them, even those of other religious denominations will find helpful ways of incorporating their beliefs and Italian folk magic into a practice all their own.

Whether you are a reader interested in Italian history, or Italian customs revolving around curses, ritual, spells, divination and dealing with spirits, you will find a lot of useful and interesting information in Italian Folk Magic. This book was a fascinating read that kept me turning the pages and wanting more.

Thankfully for those of us with a newfound hunger for more Italian folk magic knowledge, Fahrun has a website dedicated to just that called Rue’s Kitchen.

~review by Keri Nichol

Author: Mary-Grace Fahrun
Red Wheel /Weiser, 2018
p. 219, $18.95

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