Mar 212014
A Tipple, a Tid-Bit, and Delights Discovered at the Italian Trade Commission

Spring is in the air everywhere, not least at the Italian Trade Commission in New York City, the Italian government agency charged with promoting and educating about Italian products abroad. Always on the job, at a special reception this week for the newly appointed Commissioner and Executive Director, Pier Paolo Celeste, I turned up some discoveries, old and new. One, panettone gastronomico, or unsweetened panettone, a fairly recent phenomenon in Italy for making little bar sandwiches, and new to most Americans. It was carved up into a layered tower of delicious “tramezzini,” triangular sandwiches with various fillings of genuine Italian products. Francine Segan, a […more…]

Jan 282014
Readers Write: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Stirs Passions

You might wonder why I’m still noodling about spaghetti and tomato sauce after publishing my last post, a fairly definitive update on the state of Italy’s favorite–and undeniably most emblematic–dish. Ever since spaghetti al pomodoro con basilico left the slopes of Vesuvius, its birthplace, to seek fame and fortune elsewhere, its reputation has been sullied by foreign cooks. Such has been the fate of all Italian food, but last week’s International Day of Italian Cuisines, as reported in my earlier post, was an attempt by a legion of native Italian chefs to set the record straight about the “official” recipe. […more…]

Jan 232014
Italian Chefs Fight Forgery of Italian Food with Official Recipe for "Spaghetti al Pomodoro con Basilico"

Spaghetti with tomato sauce are the dream of Italian cuisine, a magic mix of ingredients, wisdom and history that a very few other dishes in the world have. Unfortunately this dish is manipulated, tormented and crucified almost everywhere. –Rosario Scarpato, Honorary President Itchefs-GVCI Once every year, Rosario Scarpato, Neapolitan-born gastronome, writer, film maker/director, and commander-in-chief of ItChefs-GVCI (Virtual Organization of  Italian Chefs) makes a global appeal for the preservation of authentic Italian food by live video conference from the amphitheater of the International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York City, reaching 2,000 Italian chefs in 70 countries. “People all over the world are cooking […more…]

Jan 132014
Julia's Stories Make 2013 Zester Daily Top Picks, Site for the "Weird and Wonderful" in Food and Drink

Judging by the top picks of the savvy food crowd that reads Zester Daily, it looks like people just can’t get enough of Italian food. Good thing, because there are endless more tales to tell and dishes to make you smile, up my proverbial sleeve. Zester Daily is not any ordinary food publication, but a cooperative of experienced writers from around the world who bring you the fresh, the undiscovered, the “weird and the wonderful,” writes founder and editor, Corie Brown. Contributors don’t have to fit into any magazine template to sound and look like everyone else, or be muzzled […more…]

Dec 312013
Sweet Potato Gnocchi: A New Dish for the New Year

Nothing comforts more than these warm, plump nuggets of belly bliss when the frigid temperature sets in. It’s the season for tubers, and time for inventing new ways with the stalwart spuds.  Sweet potato gnocchi sparkle with color and brim with goodness, whether made with the traditional American orange-fleshed variety, or the exotic new Stokes purple that has turned up in some markets. For the details, see my latest article in Zester Daily. In the spirit of the season, I used both to accompany our holiday duck since orange is the ancient color of good fortune, while purple, symbol of peace and magic, has […more…]

Nov 252013
Puritans and Pasta? A Fanciful Riff on the First Thanksgiving

Who thinks Italians invented the first Thanksgiving dish? Calvin Trillin, that’s who. Read all about it in my latest article for Zester Daily, “How Pilgrims Almost Ruined Spaghetti alla Carbonara,” and while you’re there, find the original and genuine recipe for one of Italy’s most wildly popular (and simplest) pasta dishes of all, spaghetti alla carbonara. You can serve it as a first course – like the Romans do. Or if you aren’t a turkey fan, you can make it your Thanksgiving centerpiece. If not, make it any old time. Continue reading here…    

Nov 252013
There's Got to be a Morning After, or What to Do With the Turkey Carcass

With all the fuss about the Thanksgiving bird and all the sides, we too often neglect to talk about what to do with the turkey carcass. Personally, I look forward to it all year. Here’s why, as told to Molly O’Neill, who first published my recipe in her  Cook ‘ Scribble blog three years ago. It all started with my mother, who didn’t believe in passing lasagne or big bowls of macaroni and meatballs at the Thanksgiving table like many Italian-American families did when I was growing up in New York. She and my father were native Italians and she always […more…]

Aug 162013
The Squash Racket

NOTE: FOR SOME REASON, THE FIRST PART OF MY LAST POST EVAPORATED IN CYBERSPACE AS IT WAS ON ITS WAY FROM ME TO YOU, SO PLEASE HIT THIS LINK TO READ IT NOW–-AND THEN, COME BACK HERE! Right, so as I was saying, every August food writers feel compelled to tell their readers what to do about “zucchini fatigue,” as my NPR radio host called our zucchini abundance only yesterday while interviewing a couple of food experts and myself about “the problem.”  The first interviewee speaking on the program, a fine cook and fellow cookbook writer, accused the poor vegetables […more…]

Aug 152013
Zucchini Need Live Up to Their Name: "ini" Means Small, Very Small

  Zucca, in Italian, means squash; zucchini, the diminutive, “small squash” (the Italians snap them off the mother vine at three-and-a-half inches). So why are zucchini so often the size of baseball bats? You’ll have to ask the British about that, who call them “marrows,” and win the world records for growing giant vegetables at the Great Yorkshire Showground every summer. To read about the long and short of it, and learn to look forward  to a bumper baby zucchini crop every summer, go to my new article for Zester Daily. There you’ll find the whole story of America’s gift to Italy, and the recipe […more…]

Jun 142013
A Sweet Remembrance: Love Knots for Papà

Actually, I never called my father “Papà.” I know he would have preferred it, but at some point after “Giulia” was changed to “Julia,” unofficially but permanently at the insistence of an elementary school teacher, he became “Daddy.” His name had also been anglicized, much earlier, at Ellis Island, from Giovanni della Croce to John Dellacroce. Still, he was more Giovanni than John when it came to most things. Born in Toritto, Provincia di Bari, Regione di Puglia, Italy, on April 13, 1908, he died a couple of months shy of 100, on my birthday. My father had an extraordinary […more…]