Mar 262016
The Olive Oil Scandals: Italy Fights Back

A trip to Rome at this time of year is usually timed for a feast on the region’s spring vegetables that overflow in the market stalls and somehow seem to taste better in the Eternal City than they do anywhere else. But this year, I was in Rome on a mission to hear what the Italian government had to say about the state of the country’s olive oil production, whose reputation has been damaged by scandal after scandal in recent years—and the bad publicity just doesn’t seem to let up. Here’s my report from a high-powered conference called by government officials and the country’s consortium of […more…]

Nov 032015
Fires of Autumn in the Veneto

It was this time of year in 2000 when Italian photographer Paolo Destefanis set out with my manuscript in hand to shoot images for Veneto: Authentic Recipes From Venice and the Italian Northeast, a title I wrote for Chronicle Books. I had gone with him earlier in the year to capture the magic of the Venice and its waterways in springtime and to explore locations in some of the mainland provinces. But I missed the second trip the following fall, and had to satisfy myself with being there vicariously through the vivid photographs he took. While I love the fieldwork, research, and recipe testing that is […more…]

Jun 202015
How I Became a Professional Eater, or Saying No to Papà...

I’ve been away from blogging for awhile, swept away by my work in Venice and attention to caring for the true love of my life over four years as he died slowly and cruelly from cancer. Now, in the midst of a pandemic with no work but plenty of time to review my life and incubate new beginnings for such time as we can safely all surface, I find myself excavating old files and photos. Some pieces I wrote way back may still, perhaps, be of interest to some of my readers. Here is one, a brief, very brief, bio […more…]