Category Archives: Writing

My Book, Authentic Italian, Is Now Available

Authentic Italian

Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People

by Dina M. Di Maio

Available from Amazon.com

Pizza. Spaghetti and meatballs. Are these beloved foods Italian or American?

Italy declares pizza from Naples the only true pizza, but what about New York, New Haven, and Chicago pizza? The media says spaghetti and meatballs isn’t found in Italy, but it exists around the globe. Worldwide, people regard pizza and spaghetti and meatballs as Italian. Why? Because the Italian immigrants to the United States brought their foodways with them 100 years ago and created successful food-related businesses. But a new message is emerging–that the only real Italian food comes from the contemporary Italian mainland. However, this ideology negatively affects Italian Americans, who still face discrimination that pervades the culture–from movies and TV to religion, academia, the workplace, and every aspect of their existence.

In Authentic Italian, Italian-American food writer Dina M. Di Maio explores the history and food contributions of Italian immigrants in the United States and beyond. With thorough research and evidence, Di Maio proves the classic dishes like pizza and spaghetti and meatballs so beloved by the world are, indeed, Italian. Much more than a food history, Authentic Italian packs a sociopolitical punch and shows that the Italian-American people made Italian food what it is today. They and their food are real, true, and authentic Italian.

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Cool Food Blog

Paper and Salt is a very cool food blog for fans of literary history and food.  The latest entry is one of Henry James’s favorite desserts:  vanilla ice cream with brandied peaches.  I want to try Hemingway’s bacon-wrapped trout and corn cakes.  Great bits of history with fun recipes to try.  It would be fun to have a literary food history potluck.  Who’s in?

Cookbook Ghostwriters

The New York Times’ Diner’s Journal article, “I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter,” written by Julia Moskin, has created controversy, as it claims that some chefs were not solo authors of their cookbooks.  Rachael Ray and Gwyneth Paltrow are on the defensive.

First, do I believe that many chefs have ghostwriters?  Yes, I do.  They are chefs, not writers.  Writing is a skill just as much as cooking is.  In today’s world, people do not want to acknowledge nor pay writers for the work they do.  And writing is work.

After I read the article, I had respect for Bobby Flay for admitting he used a collaborator and for respecting writers as having a craft, or skill, that he doesn’t have.  I also think many chefs do not have time to write their own book.  I don’t see anything wrong with admitting, like Flay, that you hired a professional writer to do the writing.  How is that different from hiring a professional food stylist to style the food, or professional editor to edit the book, or professional photographer to photograph the pictures in the book?  I fail to see the difference.  I, for one, would respect a chef more for collaborating with and giving writing credit to an author who helps him write his book.  A ghostwriter, however, is different from a collaborator.  A collaborator implies acknowledgement.  The very name “ghostwriter” means that the writer is a “ghost” or unseen.

Now, it’s one thing to hire a writer to write your book, and another thing altogether to hire one to create your recipes.  A chef shouldn’t need someone to do that.  I can see someone in Rachael Ray’s or Martha Stewart’s position having staff who create recipes in her style.  They have TV shows, magazines and books, and there is no way they can do all that work alone.  In my opinion, it doesn’t detract from their credibility nor my interest in them.  Now, I would be disappointed to find out that a chef with his own restaurants would have a book with recipes created by someone else.  A chef is someone who perfects his craft, much like a professional writer does, and his craft is creating in the kitchen.  I want his authenticity. 

I’m not sure how Gwyneth Paltrow gets into the conversation.  She’s neither a professional writer nor chef.  Do I believe Gwyneth Paltrow wrote her own book, My Father’s Daughter?  I believe she thinks she is a professional writer and chef.  Therefore, I believe she wrote her book, or at the very least, the title, because she is her father’s daughter.

Bon Appetit Article on La Grenouille Turning 50

There’s a good article in this month’s Bon Appetit by food writer Brett Martin on the secret to La Grenouille’s golden success.

Call for Entries in Food Poem and Recipe Anthology

The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site and Interpretive Center in West Hills, New York is conducting a foodie fundraiser–a poetry-cookbook–and is seeking submissions.  The deadline is October 31, 2011.

Bakespace.com’s TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference

Bakespace.com‘s TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference was held today, June 11th, in New York City at the Astor Center on Lafayette Street in the Village.  As part of New York’s Internet Week this week, the conference focused on ideas and tips on making a food blogger’s blog more successful, including discussions on current food trends, search engine optimization, marketing and more.  Great panels of speakers were assembled for the various talks, including Bakespace.com’s founder, Babette Pepaj; Lynn Andriani of Oprah.com; Tanya Edwards of FoodNetwork.com; as well as SEO experts, blog owners and more.  KitchenAid was also a sponsor and donated many wonderful appliances that were raffled off throughout the day.  

A food blogging conference wouldn’t be complete without food, and TECHmunch had plenty of it.  Chobani sponsored the event and served a plentiful yogurt breakfast with various flavors including its Verry-Berry and Honey-Nana Champions line. 

Chobani Champions

Lunch was catered–sandwiches by ‘wichcraft

'wichcraft

Here is a delicious vegetarian one with goat cheese, avocado and watercress:

'wichcraft

Big fat chocolate chunk cookies from Jacques Torres.  Cupcakes and whoopie pies from Robicelli’s in Brooklyn.  These are absolutely delicious.  I had a frutti di bosco cupcake that was wonderful, but the showstopper was that modest little whoopie pie in the background.  Though camera-shy in this photo, he packed a lot of flavor with chocolate cake and a sea salt caramel filling.  So glad Emily Schildt of Chobani suggested I try one. 

Robicelli's

Chobani also made peanut butter banana and berry smoothies and dips like chipotle, humus and Greek feta.  Driscoll’s had a Berry Bar with mixed berry cups with ginger lemongrass syrup made on-site by a chef from the French Culinary Institute.  At the end of the event, Driscoll’s gave gift bags of berries to attendees.  Bakespace.com gave T-shirts in honor of the event.  The conference ended with a party sponsored by The Harvard Common Press.

TECHmunch is a traveling conference that was in Austin in March and that will be in Boston July 24 and in Los Angeles in the Fall.  It’s a great way to meet fellow food bloggers and learn current trends in food blogging. 

promotional cookies

 Adorable cookies from Tasty Morsels Bakery.

 

NYU Has the Largest Collection of Food Books in America

With 55,000 books in its library, NYU, my alma mater, has the largest collection of food books in the United States.  Fales Library on the third floor of the Bobst Library houses special collections and recently amassed 21,000 food books from the private collection of restaurateur George Lang.  In 2003, the director of the food studies program at NYU started the collection of food books.  The first donation, consisting of 7,000 books, was that of Associated Press food editor Cecily Brownstone.  Since then, they have received many donations, including the complete set of Gourmet magazines, all 3,500 of them.  This collection definitely puts NYU’s food studies program on the map, and helps to show the importance of the topic that had, in the past, endured a negative stigma as “women’s work.”