Food Thoughts Archive


Published: June 20, 2017 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
La Notte di San Giovanni: Midsummer Food & Drink Rituals in Italy Presented at the Eleventh Legendary Weekend of the Folklore Society ‘Food & Drink in Legend and Tradition’ Conference 4 September, 2016, York For ages people the world over have perceived the period around the summer solstice as a time of heightened cosmic power […]

Published: January 9, 2017 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
Last September I happened to pass through York on my way to Cornwall. Most of you will surely sense, without even a glance at a map of the United Kingdom, a hint of folly in such a statement. Cornwall via York? From Italy? Well, yes, and I had my reasons. Namely, the chance to participate […]

Published: November 11, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
Today, the feast day of Saint Martin, coincides (more or less) with the arrival of vino novello in Italy, the less fussy cousin of Beaujolais nouveau. Throughout Catholic Europe, Martin is associated with the harvest’s first wine and attendant revelries (à la Bruegel, pictured above). In Italy, the Martin-vino link is cemented in the popular […]

Published: August 19, 2015 | Category: Food Thoughts, Mugello Marvels
Mugello Marvels explores the flavors and traditions of the Mugello region of northeast Tuscany, with an emphasis on local chefs, restaurants, food fairs, and events. I’m happy to launch this new category, Mugello Marvels, with a post dedicated to what is arguably my favorite spot in all the Mugello. Vino in Tavola is a convivial Italian bottega-style shop […]

Published: June 24, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
The days surrounding the summer solstice abound with legends, divinations and rituals involving water, plants, and fire. Throughout mostly rural areas of Europe, the night between June 23 and June 24, the feast day of St John the Baptist (his nativity) is marked by festivals and bonfires, flaming wheels rolling down mountainsides, ritualistic smoke purification of […]

Published: February 17, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
Alla gricia, considered by many the antecedent to all’amatriciana and alla carbonara, is a pasta sauce from Lazio made with three ingredients: guanciale, pecorino romano, and black pepper. Get your hands on quality versions of these items, and you can’t go wrong. The recipe follows below. In the meantime, some history. Here are but a […]

Published: February 12, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
Here we go again. Just weeks after a Star brand television commercial stirred a heated debate with its portrayal of a Sicilian housewife adding a bouillon cube to the classic dish caponata, Italians are once more up in arms over another publicized violation of a beloved dish—this time, the pasta sauce known as sugo all’amatriciana. […]

Published: January 22, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
You gotta love Italians. For a population at times so indifferent to its societal troubles (political corruption, tax evasion, pension reform, pollution, to name a few), they are oddly disposed to rather vocal, even organized indignation when it comes to their food. A commercial for Star brand dadi, or what we’d call bouillon cubes, is […]

Published: October 31, 2014 | Category: Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
There are so many reasons to visit the tiny Italian island Ventotene. To convince you, I could talk about the island’s fascinating history—of the tufa-carved port that served the structure known today as Villa Giulia, Emperor Augustus’s luxurious vacation villa that would become his daughter, Julia’s, place of exile. I could post pictures of the […]

Published: October 23, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
If you’ve never heard of it, favism, or favismo in Italian, sounds suspiciously like a food legend or superstition. In fact, favism is a real hereditary disease resulting from a defect of the gene that regulates glucose-6-phosphate, defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘a condition especially of males of Mediterranean descent that is marked by the development […]

Published: September 28, 2014 | Category: Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
The fagiolina del lago Trasimeno is a tiny, multi-colored legume cultivated in the lands around Lake Trasimeno in Umbria since as far back as the third century B.C., an era in which it formed part of the Etruscan diet. In the mid-19th century, however,  the fagiolina faced near-extinction; at a time of increased production of […]

Published: September 24, 2014 | Category: Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
During a special visit to Gelateria La Musa in Orvieto as a participant in the This is your time Travel Blog Tour, I was reminded of one of the things I love most about Italians— call it flair, or an ability to craft-create-design with an impeccable eye towards quality and authenticity. Especially when it comes to […]

Published: September 3, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts
The Ligurian town of Imperia will host an exhibit next week called I Menu Storici della Regia Marina, or Historical Menus of the Italian Royal Navy, as part of the Vele d’Epoca di Imperia, a biannual vintage sailboat and classic yacht regatta event held since 1986. The exhibit materials are comprised of about 30 menus […]

Published: April 30, 2014 | Category: Food Thoughts
A producer of Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region of Italy recently launched an innovative project—a roadside Prosecco vending machine. The machine works like any other of its kind: insert money, press a code, retrieve your selection. The apertures and holding racks have been designed to accommodate bottles of .75 and 1.5 liters. To […]

Published: August 27, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts, French Connection
Black olives are important to the people of Nyons. Driving around this city in the Drôme department of southeastern France, you can’t help but notice the olive’s leading role status in local life: in the frequent turn-off signs to oil mills, in the ubiquitous olive tree symbol stenciled on everything from moving vans to store-front windows, […]

Published: August 2, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
Veggies tend to dominate my summer cooking. That’s a good thing, to be sure (lighter, healthier, and all that). But let’s face it. Vegetables get boring. For as far back as I can recall, I have been dutifully steaming, saucing, and sautéing vegetables all summer long. This year, I’ve been craving change, yearning to venture out […]

Published: July 17, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
I was raised by hippies. My earliest years, nomadic and communal, were followed by a period I’d describe as urban homestead-ish living. We grew our vegetables. We drank milk delivered to our house in a massive cask. We kept chickens. My memories of that time, of shooing stubborn hens from nests and the pliant warmth […]

Published: June 5, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
My friend and fellow writer Michelle Tarnopolsky, the talent behind Maple Leaf Mamma, wrote to me this week to say she’d nominated me for a Liebster award. The idea is to recognize new blogs you follow and help foster their readership, to answer a few questions about yourself and your blog, and keep it going. […]

Published: May 21, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
  ‘Wasn’t there a time when the brightest minds in the world believed that the earth was flat? And up until, what, fifty years ago, you all thought the atom was the smallest thing, until you split it open and this whole mess of crap came out?’ – Pheobe Buffay, disputing the theory of evolution The […]

Published: May 6, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
  Restaurateurs around Empoli, a town about thirty kilometers west of Florence, recently asked local officials to curb the sagre selvagge cropping up in the area now that sagra season is in full swing. Selvaggio, which means ‘wild’ or ‘uncivilized’ in Italian, here refers to the ‘uncontrollable’ way Italian sagras have been expanding of late. […]

Published: February 1, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts, French Connection
August 2012 – Our final hours in Provence, and we’re spending them at the supermarchet. Having finally made peace with our French supermarket obsession during this, our third trip to France, my husband and I park our dusty car and enter like two giddy children let loose in a very grown-up candy store. No turnoff […]