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Gingerbread: A Sicilian-Canadian Tradition

Gingerbread: A Sicilian-Canadian Tradition

In December 2015 I sent out a celebratory email about the gingerbread houses I’d made with my nieces and cousins: Subject: Gingerbread House-a-Palooza! Message: What does it take to make three gingerbread houses? 21 cups flour 2 1/4 cups butter 7 eggs + 16 egg whites 5 1/4 cups brown sugar 16 cups icing sugar 3 1/2 cups molasses 20…

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Mushrooms Like Paper-Thin Memories

Mushrooms Like Paper-Thin Memories

Evenings on Prince Edward Island already smell like autumn. On the boardwalk at the end of each day the air is crisp, and the wind caresses your face in anticipation of long sleeves and steaming mugs of chamomile tea and honey. During those walks, my mind flies to Italy, to my parents’ home, to a time that is another life,…

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The Grape Harvest

Strolling on a lazy afternoon I passed the local grape-crushing site My senses felt the smell as an invite I couldn’t resist the call and went inside To pass the time with old familiar sights, But I saw none; The vats, the press, grape skins littering the paths, Bare-footed boys and shirtless men, They were all gone. Their shapes soon…

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The Florentine Steak

The Maitre D appeared seconds later carrying a huge white China platter. I almost expected to see the severed head of John the Baptist on it. The well-done steak that he deposited in front of me took up most of the dish. Some time ago, my wife, daughter, and I spent two delightful weeks in Rome, the eternal city, where…

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Pass the Jug

Pass the Jug

“That’ll be €1.50 a litre”. We weren’t talking about the latest hike in gas prices but the cost of the wine sold direct from the cantina. Last year’s Barbera, 13 percent by volume and perfect for the dinner table, was the subject of discussion and with no little enthusiasm. Here the inhabitants of Novi Ligure, the “Novesi”, bring their bottles,…

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Oregano & Origins: In the Shadow of the Italian Kitchen

Oregano & Origins: In the Shadow of the Italian Kitchen

I learnt to cook so well in Sicily that I will cause the banqueters to bite the dishes and the plates for joy.” – attributed to Alexis of Tarentum, 4th century BC, in Mary Taylor Simeti, Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food (1989). “Simplicity…is one of the most fundamental and at the same time most elusive keys to preparing food well……

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Food tv fantasia

Each morning espresso or cappuccino at historic chic cafe’s in rome, milan, venice and florence Under a rising Mediterranean sun At noon Ligurian olives, kissed with extra virgin oil Prosciutto di parma Pasta made by milanese hands Tuscan wine in murano goblets Bocconcini di bufala and basilico Al fresco beneath a Mediterranean mezzogiorno Vistas of dream cities in background Evenings…

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Rome, Eataly Fresh Pasta and Concupiscent Curds

Rome, Eataly Fresh Pasta and Concupiscent Curds

In his recent effort to return to power, former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi said that there is no recession in Italy because all the restaurants are full. In a land that puts so much emphasis on its cuisine, are restaurants really the best measure of the country’s economic health? Food is everywhere and always will be. I can’t imagine that…

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Chewing Over Eataly

Chewing Over Eataly

Last June at the opening of Eataly’s newest store, Eataly Rome, CEO and owner Oscar Farinetti proclaimed, “Welcome to the biggest place in the world dedicated to Italian food. Our aim is to make it the third most-visited place after the Coliseum and the Vatican Museums.” He dubbed it Eatiland. Farinetti’s contagious energy and unwavering optimism permeates throughout the concept store.…

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Ribbons and Bows for the Holidays!

Ribbons and Bows for the Holidays!

The festive season brings on the urge to create beauty and transform our surroundings into something magical and mysterious – an urge which seems to be at the heart of the fanciful figures, wreaths, illuminations and other embellishments we stage on and in our homes. The same desire is also at the heart of the opulent ribbons and bows with…

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Bloody Caesar! Only in Canada, eh?

Bloody Caesar! Only in Canada, eh?

We Canadians are responsible for many discoveries and inventions advancing modern life such as the electron microscope, alkaline batteries, insulin, and more importantly, basketball, game shows, frozen fish, instant potato flakes, electric stoves and the Bloody Caesar. All of these, except the Bloody Caesar, have been eagerly embraced by our American cousins. I wonder why, especially since its base, Clamato…

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The End of Italian Food, or a New Beginning?

Thin-crusted, chewy pizza is one of New York’s signature foods, just as deep-dish pizzas define Chicago, and eclectic, gourmet pizza toppings are emblematic of Californian cuisine. In Buenos Aires, ñoquis (gnocchi) and milanesas (breaded veal cutlets) are considered comfort foods, while deep-fried polenta is a fast-food favourite in Sao Paolo. And everyone knows how seriously Seattle takes its lattes. The question is, do any…

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Where “Real” Italian Food Really Comes From

Pasta: Popular mythology has Marco Polo bringing back egg noodles from his trip to China and calling them macaroni. Actually, a fresh pasta dish called lagana, an oven-baked precursor to lasagne, existed in ancient Roman times. But it wasn’t until the Arabs introduced durum wheat and semolina to medieval Sicily that dry pasta entered the Italian diet, making couscous, not chow…

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Sagra dello Stocco

Sagra dello Stocco

Sagra dello Stocco Every August 9 on the eve of ferragosto, the Italian summer holidays, fish aficionados from around the world travel to Mammola, Reggio Calabria, for the Sagra dello Stocco or stockfish festival. Like many Mediterranean food festivals, this sagra includes traditional dancing, music and the perennial balli dei giganti – a parade through town with larger-than life figures in medieval costume carried aloft by…

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Vinitaly – Experiencing the Fine Wines of Italy

Vinitaly – Experiencing the Fine Wines of Italy

I am excited and delighted to be in Verona once again – the romantic medieval city of Romeo and Juliet – in the heart of the Veneto region, where the Adige River flows smoothly under centuries-old bridges. Time seems to be trapped in its waters, and the reflection of the colourful medieval houses is astonishing. I have come to Verona…

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Amare l’Amaro Amarone: A Journey into Valpolicella 

Amare l’Amaro Amarone: A Journey into Valpolicella 

Valpolicella is definitely one of the most complicated wine-producing areas, and can only be fully understood if explored in person. To love the bitter Amarone – a title such as this, and a tongue twister to boot, could be misleading for one of the best Italian wines: the opulent Amarone. It would have been better to say “amare il dolce…

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Slow Makes All the Difference

Amid the background clatter of clanking plates, I couldn't help but overhear a conversation at a baretto near the Trevi Fountain. "How much for a slice of pizza?" the shorts-clad tourist asked the woman behind the counter. "Depends if you're sitting or standing," replied the woman. "What difference does it make?" asked the tourist. After a solemn pause, the woman…

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Home Winemaking: Reviving an Italian Tradition

Ask anyone for his or her impression of homemade wines and the answer most often includes some polite body language followed by one or two descriptives such as "too strong" or "harsh." Such wines are the result of outdated winemaking methods and poor grape selection. The younger generation of Italian Canadians sees little reason to keep the home winemaking tradition…

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