Mussolini Archive

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Why did I spent 4 years writing a biography of Angelica Balabanoff

24.07.2015 Posted in Writing No Comments

I first heard about Angelica by coincidence, on the Internet, while following a discussion on a forum about well-known Russian women who lived abroad. Someone mentioned Angelica Balabanoff, the socialist Russian mistress of Mussolini. “Socialist,” “Russian” and “Mussolini” in one sentence sounded intriguing, and so I decided to take a closer look into her story. After a little research, I found three short essays written about Angelica between 1975 and 1983. Such a dearth of information was not surprising. In fact, this is a rather common situation with women in history whose lives are less known  than those of their male counterparts. So most of the information I  found in the essays came from Angelica’s memoirs My Life as a Rebel. It was out of print. I hurriedly ordered the book from the second-hand-book web-site abebooks.com, and read it immediately when it arrived. Dogmatic and monotonous, the book was a disappointment. Ready to brush Angelica aside, I gave a cursory look at the bibliographies and noticed that all three essays provided completely different sources of information. After entering her name into the databases of the biggest archives in Europe and America, to my surprise I discovered a wealth of information about the life and secrecies of this incredible person.* *Extract from the book The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: Life of a Communist Rebel scheduled for publication at McFarland Publishers, October 2015.

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Dinner with Mussolini – Part I

30.10.2015 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in the Fall 2015, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica, her life, friends and favorite recipes. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about Angelica’s dinner with Lenin that took place in 1918 described by her in her memoirs My Life as a Rebel. In her book about Mussolini The Traiter Angelica mentioned a dinner she had with Mussolini in 1912. Two dinners with two greatest men of the 20th century. Both stunning by their simplicity. As a rule she was not interested in food. This time she went through the menu mentioning “… delicious macaroni with cheese, past’asciutta, house wine [for Mussolini] and water” for Angelica. Trying to put myself in Angelica’s shoes, even though I did not have anyone in front of me to act as Mussolini, I decided make both dishes. There are numerous recipes of Macaroni with Cheese. As I know that Angelica never had an oven, I opted for a basic stovetop recipe with no added chicken, ham or shrimps. Ingredients 1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 6 ounces) 1 cup 1% low-fat milk 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Preparation Cook pasta according […]