The Camden Public Library plans to host Camden native and food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins for an online presentation at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 18. The presentation is to provide an insider’s look at how Tuscany of the past contrasts with it today.

With photographs taken over the years, Jenkins will give an intimate look at how her Tuscan community has been transformed and how her neighbors have morphed into residents of the 21st century. Jenkins will reveal how different the real Tuscany is from the version celebrated in romantic novels, travelogues and films.

Half a century ago, Jenkins bought a tumbled-down farm at the end of a dirt track in the steep and stony mountains of eastern Tuscany, a place with no electricity, no phone service, not much in the way of transportation, and running water only from a pipe in the dooryard. She turned this into a home for her family while she cooked, gardened, wrote, ate, celebrated the seasons, and raised olives to make her own oil.

From her neighbors, who lived much as their grandparents had in the 19th century, Jenkins eagerly learned traditional skills such as when to plant garlic and potatoes, how to fire a wood-burning oven, and how to know when the ham had been hung long enough to eat.

“It transformed my life, and gave me a deep understanding of food and where it comes from, of why we eat what we eat wherever we are,” Jenkins said in a news release from the library.

Jenkins is a nationally-known food writer and culinary historian, with eight cookbooks to her credit plus thousands of articles in publications from the New York Times to Saveur to Smithsonian. Most recently, she has published a long report on aquaculture in Maine for Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors.

To request a Zoom link to attend, email [email protected]. For more information, visit

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