Wednesday, December 30, 2009


A picture's worth- well, you know how it goes. Even when it's not a particularly pretty picture, it's one to cause mouths to water all over Rome. Superstitious traditionalists that they are, Romans would sooner walk under a ladder with a trail of black cats in tow rather than bring in the New Year without a plate of cotechino e lenticchie.

A large ( about 3 inches thick and 8 inches long) spiced up pork sausage, cotechino and zuppa di lenticchie, lentil soup, pair up as Rome's New Year's Eve good luck meal. Lentils which resemble small coins insure prosperity. As for the pork sausage, well, I have my own suspicions about that given the plethora of phallic symbols all over the Eternal City.

Capo D'Anno, as New Year's Eve is called in Italy, is also the day that ancient custom demands the getting rid of all bad things from the past and making way for the new. Although now forbidden by law, Romans have traditionally done this by hurling unwanted items out of windows. Shoes, broken dishes, sofas, refrigerators - they all went flying out of windows like missiles at the ringing of the midnight bells.

It's a good night to stay inside, just in case, and enjoy the customary cotechino e lenticchie.

Felice Anno Nuovo - whatever you eat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

FOOD RULES: Italian Version

In his new book Food Rules, Micheal Pollan lists the 10 Commandments of a healthy eating plan. I hope this book is an explosive best seller. I hope it gallops out of book stores and is passed around like a reefer at Woodstock. Food Rules should be required reading for every gastronomically confused American (most of us), but especially those dealing with health and weight issues.

But Food Rules would never sell in Italy. What Pollan has written, Italians know. It's why eating in Italy is an art form, why Italians are so fiercely proud of their regional products and recipes, and are so devoted to preserving culinary traditions.

So read this book, memorize those rules, and then for your graduate study program, go to Italy and eat as the Italians do.