From Treviso to Portland (Feb 12, 2011)

February 21, 2011

Last time I saw Shannon was in Assisi where I toured with her, husband Tom and their three bellissimi bambini during the two years they were living in Treviso, north of Venice. How odd to share Italian food once again - in Portland, Oregon - while cooking together with Shannon and a group of her friends! Not only Shannon's friends joined in our feast but also one of mine: Tom and I had studied together in Rome in 1968. Il tempo vola...! read more...

“In vino veritas?” …Maybe

February 20, 2011

Wine and its sharp-tongued sister, vinegar, are certainly sacred in rural culture, if not harbingers of truth. Our wise farm friend, Peppa, told me that when her family farmed, weak baby chicks were strengthened by wine... read more...

Truffles Top Off Seattle Cooking Class (Feb 10, 2011)

February 14, 2011

The last thing that I expected from my February 10th Seattle cooking class was the incorporation of black truffle into our menu! Yes, truffles are certainly a highlight of Umbrian culinary specialties but they do not figure in the menus I teach at my U.S. cooking classes of Umbrian rural cuisine. Betsy, owner of Seattle Caviar, was an enthusiastic participant in a recent Seattle class and brought me a good-sized black truffle as a gift! Mamma mia! Che sorpresa! read more...

Frittata Flipping – and other Joys

January 31, 2011

February 4th is just around the corner: D-day for me: "Departure Day". My U.S. cooking lessons/lectures tour starts in Los Angeles again this year - and then I'll be cooking in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Phoenix. Houston follows.....and then on to the Midwest (Chicago). I'll lecture at MIT in Boston - and also cook in the area. I'll have a Connecticutu stop - and my 2011 our winds up in Washington, D.C... read more...

Italians, HANDS ON

January 29, 2011

What are the common denominators of Italians? For me, there are five: certainly their sense of family along with a flair of interpersonal relationships - and who would argue about their lack of faith in institutions, both Church and State? Another Italian attribute: optimism, ability to resist trauma, resiliency.L'arte di arrangiarsi (best translated as "creative inventiveness") is simply inborn in all Italians. Last, but certainly not least of all, is their innate aesthetic sense, evident in all aspects of Italian lifestyles... read more...

Tuscan Treasures in Winter Hibernation

January 27, 2011

The hilltowns of central Italy - Tuscany, Umbria - slumber in winter hibernation: no tourists at all and not many "locals" affront icy winds blowing through the twisting medieval backstreets. In the tinier towns - like Chiusdino (population 2000) in the province of Siena - the Tourist Office is tightly sealed up, the trattoria is closed for the season - and in the main piazza, you might - or might not - meet "solo quattro gatti", as the Italians say. In Chiusdino yesterday, we didn't even see "four cats" in the piazza, just a couple hardy souls, heads down, affronting the chill and one brave woman washing her mop at the local fountain. The local elderly men were of course in the one open café, playing cards. Hanging wash fluttered in the wind and gave touches of color to the gray stone and weathered brick buildings. Outside some doors, small piles of logs lay ready for woodstoves... read more...

Lest we forget: January 27th, Giorno della Memoria

January 27, 2011

I know where I will be at 9 pm on January 27th: in the city hall of Assisi where young local musicians and actors will perform readings of Primo Levi (his If This be a Man is one of the most compelling books I have ever read.) Brilliant scientist, Primo Levi was one of the few Italians who made it back from Auschwitz (liberated on January 27, 1945). Il Giorno della Memoria as a day of tribute to Shoah victims - "and to diffuse reciprocal respect for the diversities of cultures and religions, denying every type of racism and antisemitism" - became law in Italy in 2000... read more...

St. Anthony’s Fire, St. Anthony’s Blessings

January 25, 2011

"St. Anthony's fire" - tormenting (and yes, fiery!) skin flare (ie, shingles, herpes zoster) - is named after him. His image in Italian stalls protects the sheep, the oxen and all the farm animals. Pane benedetto ("blessed bread") is distributed on his feast day, January 17th, day of the blessing of the animals here in Italy - and he was Egyptian, not Italian! read more...