Jason is back on the podcast for one last, final episode! Yes, Thoughts on the Table ends today as it hits its 100th episode with the biggest topic we could think of: the meta of food, i.e. anything that has to do with food besides the physical sensations of actually eating it. Join us in our journey through this fascinating subject as we touch on the concept of authenticity and on how culture influences our appreciation of flavor.
Conversely, in the second part of the episode, Jason and I discuss some cooking trends that affect the flavor of food. These include the tendency to finish cooking pasta in its sauce and to alter traditional recipes to make them visually pleasing for sharing on social media, more so than with our guests!
Bread and Spirits is a successful Instagram project made of one measure food and two measures drinks that unites Italian cuisine and cocktails enthusiasts around the world.
Born out of the March 2020 lockdown from the combined talents of Jasmina and Stefano, Bread and Spirits is visually stunning, informative, entertaining, and very much unique. In this episode, I have the pleasure to record Jasmina and Stefano’s first audio interview and capture their incredible energy and passion for food & drinks, but also for human connections and communication.
Is a cookbook on a cuisine a mirror of what takes place in its people’s kitchens? Or does it reflect more the desires and needs of its intended audience? And if that’s the case, are these desires of a practical nature, or for something that people like to dream about? What is the relationship between cookbooks and the people they were written for?
These are some of the questions that Diana Pinto has been asking herself while going through lots of cookbooks as part of her “2-week cookbook project” – less-known cookbooks, cookbooks from the past, cookbooks written in Italian for Italians, cookbooks that were translated and adapted, and just plain out bad cookbooks as well!
Join us in our conversation and let us know your thoughts by adding your comments here or by connecting directly with Diana on Instagram.
My guest today is Christine from Italian Dish Podcast, a fantastic audio project featuring one recipe per episode from Christine’s point of view of an American in Florence. With that as a premise, Christine’s charming storytelling, fueled by her love for food and her fascination with cooking, brings each dish to life via an uncut chronicle of the cooking process, with digressions on the ingredients and the traditions that surround the dish.
During our chat, Christine and I compare our experiences fitting in into the culture of our adoptive homes and how we found it important to try to master the language, but also the local cuisine. Christine also reflects on how talking-while-cooking helps her be her real self and connect with her audience. Finally, we digress on the difficult task of cooking Italian food for native Italians, with the high bars set by their nonnas and with the brutal honesty they are known for!
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 me! After nine years, I’m as excited as ever for this project.
Why more cooking? I think it’s mainly because of two reasons. First, an increased availability of quality ingredients, especially produce, courtesy of the town’s street markets and of a couple of great supermarkets. Second, the access to a gas stove, as opposed to an electric range. I had forgotten what highly controllable, high-power heat can do for the home cook–get the water boiling in no time and then quickly bring it to a simmer; get the oil to a searing temperature, then lower the heat for braising and finally turn it all the way up for reducing. If you have tried both kinds of stovetops, I’m sure you agree. I hear induction is somewhere in between, but I have never tried it.
Why more podcasting? Well, because it’s a lot of fun! As I mentioned before, I love every aspect of the production, from approaching (or being approached by) a candidate guest to publishing the result. Partway through the year, I started tracking subscription numbers and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the podcasts had nearly doubled the blog’s subscriptions. I hope that this is an indication that podcasts are becoming more popular, which makes me happy since I have always felt part of a quiet minority of avid podcast listeners. I would like to thank my fabulous guests once more! I loved working with each and every one of you 🙂
This year, for the first time in this blog, I had the pleasure of hosting a guest article covering a topic I couldn’t have handled myself, but that perfectly fits within the project. Writer and enologist Melinda King kindly broke down the complex world of geographical indications and their cultural, political, and economic impact. To further discuss these themes, Melinda was also back as a podcast guest. Thanks, Melinda, for your generous contribution!
Looking ahead as year 10 starts, the podcast remains my main focus. I’ve already started working with future guests and can’t wait to have them on the show. I also plan on documenting a few more of the recipes I like to prepare, including my newest tradition–artisan bread from my sourdough starter, Bubbles! As you may have seen, Bubbles has now been in the family for four months, pretty much taking over my Instagram feed, in a rewarding and self-sustaining way 🙂
To close this brief retrospective, here is a summary of this year’s posts, grouped by themes, just in case you missed any of them. Thanks again for reading and listening, it has been an honor.
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 miles south-west of London. I won’t go too much into the reasons for the relocation, other than saying that they are both personal and professional, and that I am super excited about being here!
If you wonder what’s going to happen to this blog now that I am much closer to Italy and perhaps no longer bombarded by the worst Italian Food “interpretations,” please rest assured that I will continue the project! Even though England’s proximity to Italy, along with a much reduced Italian-American influence should result in a much closer rendition, Italian cuisine is still foreign, and as such, subject to adaptation to the local palate, and I have started to see this already. But in any case, what I’m interested in the most is food culture (and I think you are interested in it too!); England has so much to offer on that front, and I hope to dive into it over time.
For now, all I can do is share my first impressions. I may be stating the obvious, but, to me, the most noticeable difference between England and western Canada is that in England, the weight of history has resulted in a stronger national identity. However much I love Vancouver’s openness towards all cultures, it’s fascinating to now be exposed to more rooted customs, which may be even stronger in a small town such as Guildford. Moreover, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to explore and discover, for instance, that pretty much all cafes serve cream-tea, that the only fruit in fruit scones is raisins (or should I say sultanas?) and that crusty bread may be called a ‘bloomer’ (having no reason to be called “Italian!”)
I will talk more about British culture and traditions going forward, in comparison to the Italian and North American ones.
Now, onto a brief retrospective on this last year of blogging, or podcasting, as I should say. With only one article published, no recipes (boo!), and eight podcast episodes, it appears that I have been dedicating myself almost exclusively to Thoughts on the Table. I have certainly enjoyed producing each episode, along with my wonderful guests (some returning and some new): from the planning, to the recording, to the editing. If you missed any of them, here is a summary:
Returning guest, food blogger and photographer David Scott Allen returns on the show to discuss The Basic Rules of Italian Food, such as that no Italian would dare to cut spaghetti with a knife, or to have a cappuccino after a meal!
Food blogger Alida Zamparini returns to give us an update on her latest recipes and blogging trips. As you will hear, Alida has been focusing on regional Italian products and artisan craftsmanship, such as the production of ricotta in the Friulian Alps. Alida also introduces her passion for ancient grains such as spelt and Kamut Khorasan.
An interview with blogger Enzo De Chiara during which he explains his link to the United States and how he started his blog to document his food, travel, and lifestyle experiences across from his hometown of Bergamo (in northern Italy) and his adoptive city of Columbia, Missouri.
A Christmas episode with my friend and recurring guest Nick Zingale. In the episode, he describes how his Italian-American family celebrated Christmas over the years, with a special mention of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Neapolitan born and raised Giuseppe D’Angelo describes how he made a mission for himself to discover the best Neapolitan pizzerias around the world. In his blog, he praises how pizza makers outside of Naples can obtain an excellent product despite operating in less than ideal conditions.
Writer and editor Melinda King talks about her background in food and wine science and history and shares her view on the true nature of Italian food with an insightful analysis that transcends its well-known allure.
Foodiamo’s founder Raffaele Asquer and chief editor Roberto Croci talk about the Foodiamo project and how it expanded from guide to Italian food in Los Angeles to online magazine of global appeal while keeping its authenticity. Particularly, Raffaele talks about his marketing research, the choice of the name and logo, and the creation of a brand. Roberto, writer and editor for several Italian entertainment magazines, tells about his desire to cover Italian food and how this led him to approach Raffaele, bringing a new perspective into the project.
During the episode, we also ask ourselves some highly debatable questions, such as:
What are the four kinds of cheese that should be featured in gnocchi ai quattro formaggi?
Does mozzarella count as one of the four kinds on pizza ai quattro formaggi?
Should such pizza have tomato sauce on it?
Finally, we each talk about our favorite Italian dish.
An unusual interview today on Thoughts on the Table! Yvette from Crazy Italians restaurant in Memphis found my page while looking for references on authentic Italian food. We started chatting and I discovered that not only did she and her husband Giampaolo open a successful restaurant, for over a year they have been producing amazing short videos featuring their daughters Azzurra and Lucrezia to help introduce continental Italian food to North America. Since I know you’re curious, here are a few of my favorite episodes: Bruschetta, Who is Alfredo, Carbonara, Pomodoro, Salad dressing.
In the podcast, Yvette, Giampaolo, and 9-year old Azzurra share their story and describe the laborious process of video production which involves the entire family, including some funny behind the scenes!
Yvette, it was great to get to know you and your family – thanks again for your fantastic contribution in letting the world know about the real food of Italy. And for this, please accept the Cannolo Award!
My guest today is Giulia Scarpaleggia from Jul’s Kitchen, an incredible project which includes a blog, food writing, food photography & videos, and a cooking school! Join me to hear from Giulia’s own voice how it all began and how it has evolved. During the episode we also talk about the recipe development that led Giulia to writing her fifth cookbook (currently being finalized) which will feature 100 recipes inspired by tradition, and which will not include Chicken Parmigiana – a dish you will not find it in Italy!
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