Searching for Wild Asparagus in Umbria by Terry H. Bhola

Searching for Wild Asparagus in Umbria by Terry H. BholaSearching for Wild Asparagus in Umbria (Un altro tipo di dolce vita) tells the story of Terry Bhola, a native of Trinidad, and his Italian wife as they adjust to life in a small city in central Italy. Bhola’s honesty, openness, and unique perspective carry this book and make it an expat tale worth reading.

Indeed, if you enjoy memoirs that don’t mince words or leave out the struggles of adjusting to a new language and life, you should consider adding this one to your to-read pile.

After having moved from Brooklyn to Milan — the heart of Italy’s rat race (no offense to Rat, the author’s cat) — Bhola and his wife picked up and followed one of those *feelings* that some of us expats know all too well. They soon found themselves dealing with a peculiar but kind community in Umbria, a tough job situation, and other common stresses of young married couples.

Bhola’s experiences were not all “Under the Umbrian Sun” by any means, and in fact, the most powerful parts in the book were those in which Bhola’s non-white status is addressed. It’s no secret to those of us living in Italy that immigrants (or at least *some* kinds of immigrants) are not exactly a welcome group throughout the peninsula; Bhola, who has American citizenship, shares his experiences from a point of view sorely needed in the broader immigration dialogue.

I found some of the stories a bit disjointed, and the book could have benefited from tighter editing, but overall, while reading it, particularly the second half, I kept looking forward to delving back into this couple’s life, flipping page after page, and to me, that’s a good book.

Also, a bit of a warning label: Bhola’s writing can be crude and/or crass in parts, so I feel it’s fair to tell those of you who might be offended by off-color language. On the bright side, this casual style tells me that Bhola held nothing back in writing this book — plus he sounds like someone who’d be fun to chat with over a glass of wine, which are two great takeaways from any memoir.

Four espresso cups out of five.

4 espresso cups out of 5!

To be honest, about halfway through the book, I would’ve given it 3 and a half cups, but right around that point, Bhola got into a storytelling groove, and I couldn’t put it down the rest of the way. I mention this just in case you’re reading and not quite feeling it through the first few chapters — give it just a bit more of a chance, and hopefully you’ll be turning pages in anticipation just like I was.


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3 Beans of Wisdom to “Searching for Wild Asparagus in Umbria by Terry H. Bhola”
  1. Sounds like a good book to share the experience of living in Italy. It’s a challenge to adjust to the customs of a new country, but I’m sure worth the effort for those that chose this new lifestyle.

    Always a challenge, indeed; thanks for coming by 🙂

  2. 10.11.2011

    Glad you enjoyed Searching for Wild Asparagus in Umbria. I had a great time writing it:-) By the way, as punishment for the tiny bit of typos you’ve encountered (that I’ve since amended), I’ve just given my ENTIRE wine collection to my neighbors.

    Thanks, again, for reviewing my book:-)


    michelle Reply:

    Oh Terry, I think that’s far too harsh a punishment!



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake