I began writing out of frustration. I have never had chicken on pasta when I was in Italy – and, yet, chicken pasta is a popular “Italian classic” in North America(*). It’s bad enough to have “Italian” dishes that don’t actually exist in Italy (try ordering Linguini Alfredo in an Italian restaurant!), but what is even more upsetting is when the basic pillars of Italian cuisine are completely ignored, when its simplicity and balance are lost in the attempt to cram in as many flavors as possible. Real Italian food celebrates quality ingredients, expertly paired so that they play off each other. I don’t see that in a tomato sauce made with 10 different spices, a tablespoon of sugar and a head of garlic!
After my initial rant, however, I shifted my focus on researching why certain ingredients in North America are treated so differently from their Italian counterparts. Why are tomatoes nothing more than a garnish for hamburgers? Why when I lived in Italy hadn’t I heard of Canola? Why does fresh milk last 3 weeks instead of 3 days? The blog became more “scientific,” and started to require far more research.
Between the different articles, I continued publishing recipes, especially the simple and traditional ones. And, by doing that, I had an opportunity to work on my food photography.
This blog has been a great experience, and I learned a lot through it. I want to take this opportunity to thank the people that helped me a great deal throughout the years:
– Above all, my fabulous wife, Candace, for all her help, feedback and amazing editing. Honey, I would have given up if it wasn’t for your support.
– My friend food bloggers who I met along the way for their encouragement, feedback, for inspiring me and for promoting my posts. Special thanks to Manu, Pola, Kathy, Fiona, Simona, Nami, Frank.
– My friends and coworkers for their kind support and for flattering me by cooking my recipes! And special thanks to Jason, who has been a great sounding board, and who has been involved as an editor and as a podcast partner.
Born and raised near Milan, Italy, Paolo has an engineering degree in Biomedical Electronics and works as a software engineer in the gaming industry. Now based in England, he lived in Vancouver, Canada, for nearly 18 years. If you wish to get in touch with him, please use the form.
(*)Although pasta with chicken exists in some regions of Italy, it isn’t the mainstream dish depicted in North America.
Posts About This
Eleven years of blogging, eight of podcasting
Another year! The good news is that this blog is still active and luckily keeps being found by those searching for Italian specialties like pizzoccheri or canederli or Italian misconceptions like my 6 Italian myths. The bad news of course is that I haven’t posted any new articles or recipes this year. I know, it’s terrible … Continue reading “Eleven years of blogging, eight of podcasting”
Ten years ago, I pushed ‘post’ for the first time. What a journey! Honestly, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, and I am so glad I didn’t: I took it one step at a time and learned along the way. The discovery was both on the content front and on the … Continue reading “Ten Years!”
Nine Years of Blogging, Six of Podcasting
Another year has gone by! After settling down in England, I found myself cooking more and dedicating more time to the podcast. With 17 posts, 10 of which are podcast episodes (four with new guests and six with returning guests), six recipes, and the first guest article, this has been a pretty productive year for … Continue reading “Nine Years of Blogging, Six of Podcasting”
Eight Years of Blogging, Five of Podcasting
Hello everyone! Today this blog turns eight years old, prompting me to give an (overdue) update. As you have heard in the latest podcast, and seen on “the social channels,” I have some big news. After spending over 17 years in Vancouver, two months ago I moved to England! Precisely, to the town of Guildford, 30 … Continue reading “Eight Years of Blogging, Five of Podcasting”
Seven Years of Blogging, Four of Podcasting
Hi! Here I am celebrating seven years of blogging and looking back at the past 12 months, as I do at this time every summer. Thank you for reading this post. Your choice to dedicate a bit of your precious time to me and to my work is humbling and makes me proud to be … Continue reading “Seven Years of Blogging, Four of Podcasting”
Disgraces on the Menu Turned Six – Time to Blow Out the Candles Again!
Another year has elapsed – this blog just turned six!! As usual, I’d like to stop for a moment and look back at the last twelve months of blogging and podcasting. Before I do that, I would like to thank all who have been supporting me by reading, by listening, and especially by sharing their … Continue reading “Disgraces on the Menu Turned Six – Time to Blow Out the Candles Again!”
Year Five: Complete!
I can hardly believe it has been 5 years since I started this project! Time flies when you’re having fun, and flies especially fast when you’re in good company – over this past year, I connected with many people and I like to believe that together we changed how Italian food is perceived around the … Continue reading “Year Five: Complete!”
I was featured on Rick Zullo’s “The Fatal Charm of Italy” podcast!
A few days ago I had the pleasure to be invited by my friend, writer Rick Zullo to be part of his new podcast: “The Fatal Charm of Italy“. I had a fantastic time! Rick is such an amazing host, and his insatiable curiosity makes for a very insightful conversation. You can listen to the … Continue reading “I was featured on Rick Zullo’s “The Fatal Charm of Italy” podcast!”
One Year, One Second a Day
Have you heard of “one second videos”? They are a bit of an old idea now – a creative named Cesar Kuriyama came up with it, went to TED in 2012*, and since then they have become quite popular. How do make a one-second video? It’s simple: record 1-second long video clips every day, then … Continue reading “One Year, One Second a Day”
Turin Epicurean Capital
Turin Epicurean Capital is coming up in just a few days in Turin, Italy! As I mentioned, I will take on the role of moderator of two international round tables where writers, bloggers, food bloggers, and food entrepreneurs will discuss the universal meaning of food and how it influenced their lives and careers. Of course I … Continue reading “Turin Epicurean Capital”
Four Years of Blogging, One of Podcasting
Another interesting year for Disgraces on the Menu – the year that has seen the beginning of the podcast Thoughts on the Table, along with several collaborations. I have always been fascinated with radio shows. When I was in my 20s, I hosted a radio host on a small Italian station. I didn’t expect to … Continue reading “Four Years of Blogging, One of Podcasting”
“Due Parole” with Yours Truly
When I started conducting interviews, I never would have thought that someone was soon going to be asking me for one! And not just someone – the amazing Lora from Savoring Italy, as part of her “Due Parole” podcast. The chat turned out quite entertaining – if you want to find out what we talked … Continue reading ““Due Parole” with Yours Truly”
Home-Style Pizza Competition
An unusual post for this blog, today. Three friends of mine have just competed in a pizza cook-off, and I had the honor to be the head judge 🙂 The contestants were responsible for bringing their own ingredients, including their pizza dough (which they made beforehand). To cook the pizzas, they all used the same … Continue reading “Home-Style Pizza Competition”
Three Years of Blogging
After another year, it’s time for my usual retrospective. This year’s production hasn’t been as high as in the first two years. I don’t have a good excuse for the drop, but I can think of a few contributing factors in my personal life (I moved to a new place, and took on a different … Continue reading “Three Years of Blogging”
Two Years of Blogging
Another year has gone by, marking Quatro Fromaggio’s second birthday, and the time for me to look back at 12 more months of blogging! With about 30 articles published, I managed to keep my resolution of posting at least once every two weeks, having failed my real resolution to post every week. Out of the … Continue reading “Two Years of Blogging”
Pasta Calendar Quiz – The Results!
Thanks to all who played the Pasta Calendar Quiz. If you’re like me and like numbers, you may enjoy this quick update. Spoiler warning! This post will give the correct answers. Surprisingly only 43% of the people who played answered correctly to all questions. Another 25% did quite well, though, with just 1 error, 21% … Continue reading “Pasta Calendar Quiz – The Results!”
Pasta Calendar 2012
Pasta shapes are aesthetically pleasing. They are warm, they’re playful, even comforting. And they have interesting names if you think about it. In the Pasta Names Explained article, I went through the most common pasta cuts and gave an explanation of the origin of their names in the form of a literal translation. As 2011 … Continue reading “Pasta Calendar 2012”
One of the most interesting aspects of keeping a blog is to look up the statistics on how people come across it. Aside from being referred by other websites, many visitors stumble upon the blog by using search engines. When they do, the exact sentence that they typed in into the search bar is collected … Continue reading “Search Queries”
A few days ago I had the honor of being nominated by Nami (@ Just One Cookbook) for the Seven Links Challenge. It consists of selecting seven of my existing posts based on as many given criteria and explaining the reasons behind the choices. So, here I go! 1. The most beautiful post As … Continue reading “Seven Links”
It has been one year already! I started this blog at the end of July 2010 out of sheer exasperation. I felt that Italian cuisine was too often completely misrepresented in North America. Not only was it not authentic (which is understandable this far away from Italy), it frequently tasted plain bad. With many of … Continue reading “Birthday Blog”
I was born in Italy and I have been living in Vancouver, Canada for the last 10 years. I love Vancouver and I love eating out in Vancouver, but I can’t help but notice the many distortions of Italian dishes on restaurants menus. For some reason that I don’t understand, in Vancouver Italian food is … Continue reading “Preface”
20 thoughts on “About”
Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great "about" page Paolo! 🙂 And thank you so much for your kind mention! You do an amazing job with your blog. You know, we share the same frustrations… and I do have a great time (and sometimes a laugh) when I read your posts on "weird" Italian food! Keep up the good work!!
PS: Sai che ho fatto le "fiamme"?? Non ho resistito dopo aver letto il tuo post sui pasticcini!!!! 😉
Thanks Manu! Likewise 🙂
Le "fiamme"… I'm so glad I made you want to make them. Here is a link for those who want to jump on Manu's blog to check them out: http://www.manusmenu.com/fiamme-di-cioccolato-chocolate-flames
I agree with Manu: very nice page and photo of you. Frustration is good to get us to act, but then, to keep us going, we need something that interests us on a deeper level. That's what happened to you and to me as well. The protest march becomes a journey of discovery, which is a lot more fun. Than you for the kind mention. To many more years of travels!
Thanks Simona, very well said – the discovery is indeed more fun. Thanks again for your support and contribution!
Where's the like button??
On my Facebook page 🙂
Nice to put a face to the name Paolo! I'm behind you all the way!! Keep up the good work! Bravo! Christina @ChristinasCucina
Thanks Christina – it means a lot!
Bisogna andarci piano, pero', quando si dice che una cosa si fa o non si fa in Italia, tanto vasta e ricca e' la tradizione culinaria. Per esempio: la pasta col pollo si trova eccome nella provincia di Padova, dove predilogono gli animali da cortile.
Comunque, bel blog e ottima impresa, anche se probabilmente farai la fine di Don Chisciotte, perche' i miei connazionali ESIGONO la Alfredo sauce ;-D. Ti faccio una bella segnalazione sul mio blog, The Smiling Eggplant. E ti invito sulla mia nuova pagina Facebook, Italian Food Words.
Thanks Cynthia for your comment! Translating for the non Italian speakers, she says that I need to be careful with generalizations, given the vast and rich variety in Italian culinary traditions: pasta with chicken does exist in the province of Padua, where poultry is very liked. I didn't know that, and I'm very happy for the correction – I'll edit the post to incorporate this observation.
Cynthia also adds that she likes the blog and my initiative, even though I'll probably end up like Don Quixote, since the people from her country (I suppose the US?) DEMAND Alfredo sauce. I can see that 🙂 I just would like everyone to know that Alfredo sauce is not Italian, it's Italian-American!
Cynthia also invites me to her blog, The Smiling Eggplant, and to her Facebook page: Italian Food Words. Thanks Cynthia – I will check them out.
Very enjoyable, well done! I would be interested to see your take on the north/south Italian differences regarding cuisine. I find it is like 2 different worlds.
Thanks for stopping by! Great suggestion, thanks – you are right: two different worlds. I'll get on that, maybe a good subject for a podcast 🙂
Hadn't checked out your about page since I first started reading your blog! Great description and thank you for the mention, very honored! Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Hi Fiona! You are welcome 🙂 Yes – Fiona and I will meet up during my upcoming visit to Italy! Stay tuned, we may even record a podcast episode together 🙂
Love your blog! Living in Sicily, it's so true about misconceptions of "Italian food" in North America…LOL =)
Hi! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comment! Your blog deserves a Cannolo Award! Congratulations 🙂
I just bumped into your blog as I was looking at polenta taragna. I am a berganasco who came to the US more than thirty six years ago. I lived on the east coast, west coast and south: it is so true, in all these years, very rarely I have found authentic Italian restaurants, and none serving northern Italian dishes – which are quite distinct from central or southern. Indeed, the American idea of Italian cuisine is extremely narrow and confused. Thank you, this is an excellent site.
Thanks Marco! Nice to meet you. If you have any suggestions or more comments, please send them my way!
Paolo, can you please produce another pasta calendar, like you did after your blog’s first anniversary? I really enjoyed having it.
I’m enjoying your site! I have found it not only correct in so many ways, but amusing and helpful too. As an Italian-American who has lived in Italy for a number of years, and studied Italian “foodways” in my doctoral and post-doctoral research, it’s a relief to find some of your points, clarifications and comments.
Just got back from Italy, with most of my time spent this trip in the north, and — like Marco above — was looking up Polenta Taragna for a snowy day in Colorado. Yum!