Questions. Answered.

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Research. There was a time I found that to be a scary word, mainly because I was in university and knew that sooner or later they would make me do this thing called research. It sounded terrifying.

In time I realized that research involved asking questions – and trying to find the answers. To this day, I ask questions every single day! Obviously I don’t do applied research, but trying to problem-solve and find answers is totally engaging. 

Turns out, I love research!

So, it should come as no surprise that my recent visit to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC) was like a play date – my idea of fun!

I joined other FBC bloggers at what was described as an “exclusive, behind-the-scenes ‘Inside the Science’ workshop”. I’m betting you will be astonished to hear about some of what goes on behind those closed doors.

I hasten to add that if you’re interested, those doors are not “locked” to the public. Join their mailing list or follow them on Twitter or Facebook to learn about events, including their annual Open House. They will soon be advertising for new taste testers. And apparently the grounds of their “campus” are often crawling with people taking photos of their cute stone bridge and amazing old trees. And I do mean old… the setting for VRIC is an endowment from Moses F. Rittenhouse dating back to 1906.

Just before getting to the fun stuff, it’s worth sharing their Vision and Mission.

A vibrant, prosperous and sustainable horticulture industry working with innovation to fill our world with fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants… Enriching people’s lives through science and discovery in horticulture.” Their focus is on breeding, not GMO. Their activities linked to horticulture, applied genomics, consumer insights, robotics and automation all happen within the broader context of Canada, our climate, consumers and producers. 

Where there’s science there are usually big words, but VRIC is purposeful about making their work accessible. One of the many questions they ask is “how to best communicate biotechnology to the public / consumers”. What, for example, do we know or think about the term “biocontrol”? Does it sound futuristic? Maybe even “evil”? Turns out it is a fancy term for bugs eating bugs. VRIC offers up a setting and staff that are inviting, and the closest thing I saw to a lab coat was our greenhouse footwear. 

I’m about to share some fascinating info about apples, sweet potatoes, taste testing – oh… and pears. For the full story that includes okra, eggplant and mini-cukes, browse the very readable “Innovation Report” (October 2017). I am having a tough time limiting the number of links I offer for your reading pleasure, and worry they might make you disappear down rabbit holes. I hope your curiosity matches your time available for reading.

Words, words, words. The workshop included participation in variations on Consumer Surveys, and that puts you in front of words, words, words. Yes, central to some of the research are the descriptors used. When rating apples, for example, the survey asked which apple had better taste, which was more flavourful. What’s the difference? Taste is sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Flavour refers to terms such as lemony, chocolate-y, buttery, cheesy. (See more flavour words.) It can take the VRIC team two to three months to develop a lexicon of descriptors for one item. For cider, for example, they identified 22 attributes. In the taste test we did, only 6 terms were used – among them “candy apple, pear, yeasty, barnyard”. I think I’d need more taste tester training! (Read more about taste testers. It's a paying job and they will soon be hiring more.)

Apples. VRIC’s extensive research has produced profiles of what consumers most like/dislike about apples. They use that knowledge to identify the ideal apple to grow – though it has to be a good match to local growing conditions. Funny story. What consumers like may not be what growers like. Turns out that Honey Crisp has fast become a favourite among consumers, but producers balked at the pressure to replant orchards with an apple that was hard to grow. In this case the consumer won, enjoying Honey Crisp taste and texture. By the way, texture often trumps taste in surveys. See! I’m not the only one who loves crunch. (Did you read my blog post on "crunch"?)

Like scouts in sports, VRIC is always on the lookout for plant varieties, which are then tested in our climate, and with luck move on to next step in the pathway to commercialization. That all takes much more time than one might think. VRIC projects 2022 to be the year that a new apple called “Smitten” (TM) will become widely available. According to insiders, “People who think they don’t like apples will love this product.” An early yellow apple is also in the works.

Sweet Potato. During the sweet potato taste test I was struck by the fact that I had never eaten “naked” sweet potatoes. My preference is oven roasted, but that implies some oil and seasonings. Am excited to report, that one of the samples we tasted (and the one I preferred) was the new (not yet named) variety that will show up at markets in 2019. 

Sonia Day, Gardening Columnist for the Toronto Star, sadly reports that it is hard to grow sweet potatoes in our yards, so we are left to producers to satisfy our need. And how that need has exploded! Nutritional benefits – and apparently sweet potato fries – have doubled consumption in the last decade, but so far 85% of the supply is imported.

Of the apples available to consumers, most of us know our favourite. Not so with sweet potatoes – every grocery store has one bin, one choice - although there are hundreds of varieties – one estimate is 6,500 worldwide. Of course, if grown in Canada it needs to be hardy, happy being planted early and harvested late, and must be high yield to make it all worthwhile. And VRIC discovered that consumers want a "bright orange, uniform colour". Eastern Canada (Nova Scotia) has joined the quest to capture a share of the Canadian market. Grab a coffee and read this short but fascinating article. You can read more from the sidebar at this site.

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The Sensory Lab, where we tested tomatoes and cider, was the most high tech. Testers are semi-isolated to avoid being biased by the reactions of other testers. Food emerges from a secret cupboard and a red or green light may mask the product colour. Turns out that colour also biases our food preferences – and can even change our experience of taste.

Roses. As a footnote we also completed surveys about roses being developed at VRIC. Seems I already missed buying these new varieties that can survive winter temperatures of minus 40.

Canadian Shield and Chinook Sunrise - new roses!

Canadian Shield and Chinook Sunrise - new roses!

Sweet potato puree – eggplant and mushroom, chicken.

Sweet potato puree – eggplant and mushroom, chicken.

Cold Snap - all developed with VRIC

Cold Snap - all developed with VRIC

Our workshop ended with great food that used VRIC sweet potatoes, eggplants and apples. 

If that was not a heavenly enough day – mine ended with the acquisition of Cold Snap pears, which also have a connection to VRIC. I first hunted them down in 2015. Did not see them at all in 2016. Eureka! Yummers!

All in all, the day was my idea of a good time!! Any questions?

Or perhaps you agree with Kafka -

"So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being." [Source]

Pumped? Slumped?

Happy face? Sad face? What do you see?

Happy face? Sad face? What do you see?

I have been to so many conferences, I’d never be able to count them – but only three about food blogging – most recently FBC 2017 in Ottawa.

Conferences are exhausting. The fatigue of travel sets the stage, and once the conference begins you “are on”. Not that you are necessarily “performing”, but you need to be your public self.

If you are by nature introverted and need a certain amount of alone time (yes…) – that must all be placed on hold – otherwise what’s the point of going to the conference? You talk, share, meet new people, listen, learn, and think and think and think. The emotional and intellectual demands are layered onto the physical challenges of spending too much time sitting and eating (although…. yum…)

There are gifts - and I’m not referring to the amazing loot bag. Formal presentations and informal interactions can be inspiring and uplifting. That energy seeks a balance with being lost in quiet reverie – reflecting on what it all means.

In my full time work life, the cost of the privilege of going to a conference was to return to the workplace and share learning with colleagues. The aftermath of an FBC Conference is more introspective – and that introspection may go into high speed even as you travel home (even if the train is not high speed).

“Post-conference mood”? I know I am not the only one who swings between feeling pumped versus slumped.

Indeed, “slumped” was the theme of a session on burnout – so well attended that it instantly offered “It’s not just me” consolation. Practical suggestions valuable to anyone – not just food bloggers – included various writing tasks – and so here I am writing.

Another session asked us to ponder “Branding” (more on that later). I suspect that part of my brand is “too many words” – and if you don’t like too many words, you may be checking out already. 

I’m supposed to not worry about that. Try telling that to someone who subscribes to the Jewish saying “Start worrying. Details to follow.” [Source]

One thing that feeds worrying? Contradictions. Let me share a few. They are not criticisms of conference content – in fact philosophers say we worry too much about contradictions. [Source]

The conference theme was “Embrace Yourself” which itself embraces ideas such as “be yourself”, “be authentic”.

No surprise then to encounter the message “Stop looking at other people’s blogs.” I like that. Helps you avoid the “curse of comparison”. (Incidentally, that is truly a cursed, debilitating blogger disease.) “Stop looking. Stop comparing.” That message now lives in my brain - but it has to share space with the opposite suggestion. “Look at other people’s blogs, looks for trends” – and in case you don’t have time to do that, we’ve done it for you and here are the trends. Are you “on trend, Diane”? Um… nope. Should I worry?

One trend? Video – and lots of help on this was offered. I watch too much TV, but am not a huge fan of food videos (though the “silent” one from Peaceful Cuisine was mesmerizing). There are many things better to eat than one’s words, so I will not say that I will never try making them. Bizarre, really, since learning style assessments say I am a visual learner – and yet I have some preference for words, and would rather devote 30 minutes listening to a podcast (e.g. I love The Fridge Light) than 5 minutes watching a video. How does this makes sense? (Don’t worry about answering – it was a rhetorical question.)

There was tremendous support for being ok with who you are – as a food blogger – that’s your “Brand” – what people will see and feel when they visit your site. This was paired with valuable tips on how to clearly and creatively communicate your brand.

I am still not sure what my “brand” is. I worry about that. After three years, some patterns are revealing themselves and I am beginning to think I need not apologize for them.

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I describe my blog as a “legacy” blog – mainly, but not exclusively, trying to record for posterity favourite and family recipes. My stories point to a brand that has something to do with nostalgia (family and culture). From the time I was five I knew I wanted to be a “teacher” and that thread has been the warp and weft of my life. (Yes, I used to weave.) The love of learning means I like research (which is why I loved Elizabeth Baird’s presentation on The History of Food in Canada!!) and it also means I offer (wordy) preambles about the history of a recipe; I want to help readers be successful cooks and aim to offer foolproof recipes – that also tends to equate to “a lot of words” (some might say, too many words).

It’s almost easier to list “not my brand” – I don’t share nutritional details, or aim for a niche such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo. (I subscribe to everything in moderation – that even includes full fats.) I have no ads; do minimal food styling in photos (trying to do better); surprisingly I seem to focus more on sweets than savouries; while there may so far be more “classic” recipes – I can be distracted by trends (Squirrel!). I try to make my writing engaging, but see? Too many words.

In a nutshell. I like learning, teaching, cooking, eating, researching, writing and tech. I worry that’s not a brand.

Since I’m already over my planned word count, let me tell you about Seymour Papert – he influenced my teaching and learning. He offers this analogy about learning:

If I wanted to become a better carpenter, I'd go find a good carpenter, and I'll work with this carpenter on doing carpentry or making things. And that's how I'll get to be a better carpenter. So if I want to be a better learner, I'll go find somebody who's a good learner and with this person do some learning.” [There’s more here, but I hope I have made the point.]

I am a learner (lifelong, every single day) and if you want to learn more about cooking, stick with me. Meanwhile I need to learn more about food blogging and thus persist in my goal of creating my “community of carpenters”. FBC Facebook and Conferences deliver on that in spades!!

By the way, it was also advised that our blog should have a "tag line" – like the subtitle of a book. Not sure what that can be until / unless I can convey my brand in fewer words. So far all I have come up with is “old lady remembering recipes”; or “kitchen wisdom from the wizened”. I worry neither is suitable. 

In blogging, numbers are important and a way to quantify the community you want to build. I am very interested in building community and already have a draft post on this. The mastery of social media is a tool for building community – and – here comes the contradiction – one presenter who had three offers from book publishers admitted that she’s not good at Twitter and therefore does not use it much. I’m not a fan of Twitter and have often ignored it for months. Don’t worry – I am not expecting that will lead to book offers.

“Success” is everyone’s goal, and begs for definition – income? celebrity? satisfaction? I am not relying on my blog for income and have not taken any steps to monetize. (I think) I was “a somebody” in my previous life. Not so sure I want to be one in this life. The “issues” and “need to know /do” differ for bloggers on these pathways. I don’t envy them. 

I was reminded about the success that can come from being a hardworking, high energy, risk taker. I’m guessing it also helps if one is adorable, and honestly, some of the younger bloggers have the whole package. They are breathtakingly impressive and (as somebody said) today’s technology has stripped away the gatekeepers that used to stand in the way of creative productivity. Their work and achievements almost make me giddy about the talent in this country!

As for me, I’m with Einstein “A quiet and modest life brings more joy that a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” [Source]

Unrest. That’s Albert’s word for “worry”. If quiet and modest are the antidotes to “constant unrest” (aka worry), I’ll be adopting that as my mantra.

Pumped or Slumped? Pumped and Slumped? Melissa referred to David duChemin’s advice: “You can’t have this creative life, ask for the highs, and never get the lows… it’s in the lows of the wave where we feed inspiration. If we are conscious of the shape of the wave and the way our process works, we know that wave will crest again."

I’m feeling the next wave. 

I’m stealing an idea from Loreto and Nicoletta of Sugar Loves Spices who end every blogpost with the “Song of the Day”.

I invite you to take four minutes to listen to / view Bobby McFerrin singing Don't Worry Be Happy (with Robin Williams).

Feeling my brand. Going to worry less (hahahaha). I write for myself. (But if you are reading this - well - yay!) Am seeking carpenters. Quiet and modest. Pumped. 

Grateful for the FBC Community! 2018 – Road Trip!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this. I think much applies to all "creatives". Click on the word "Comments", below. If you enjoyed this read, please take a second to click on "Like"! Don't worry - will still love you if you don't.

À bientôt Grinch Village

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A graduation ceremony triggered the latest, not last, trip to NYC. That was back in May – so this is a very tardy post. For the second time, we stayed in Brooklyn, but who can forget the year of “Grinch Village”?

I like to drive, but am a very good navigator. On family trips that’s my job. I love maps of all shapes and sizes. I study them before we travel - old fashioned maps and digital maps, sometimes checking out street view so as to be super prepared. Especially in the days before GPS I liked the "TripTiks" - customized maps - prepared by the automobile club (CAA). (Truth be told, despite having smart phone GPS I still like to have a TripTik.)

In 2009, we asked for a TripTik to Greenwich Village, and when we picked it up noticed that we were headed to "Grinch Village" instead!!

Though I still use that beat up TripTik for part of the drive, the last few times we have by-passed the tunnel entrances to Manhattan and have instead approached NYC via Brooklyn, on the Verrazano Bridge. For the first time, we did AirBnB and found ourselves in a stunning condo at the base of Brooklyn Bridge with a charming host who could easily be a character in a novel. (I do have some AirBnB advice if you are ever interested.) Our AirBnB condo was in the Sweeney Building. The host was one of the first to move into the building once renovations were complete, and she tells tales of how sketchy the neighborhood was in those days. Crazy trivia about the building - "It was erected in 1908 by the W. H. Sweeney Manufacturing Company. The company was founded by three brothers from Marysville, Ontario. They manufactured copper, brass, nickel, and silver kitchenware." [Source]

Room with a view - eyes left - Brooklyn Bridge

Room with a view - eyes left - Brooklyn Bridge

Room with a view - eyes right - Manhattan Bridge

Room with a view - eyes right - Manhattan Bridge

Holiday, getaway, rest & relaxation? Well, in my opinion, NYC has not been a place for relaxing. The pressures are the reverse. You are in the Big Apple. There is so much to see and do. How can you afford to sit in a coffee house for more than an hour, or (perish the thought) have a wee nap. It’s go, go, go; do, do, do. The step counter on my iPhone rewards me for all those extra steps! My fantasy NYC getaway would be a stay of a week or more, with "go, go" days alternating with "lazy" days.

Truth be told, we have used some of our NYC time sitting, quietly watching an amazing world go by. While seeming to be a place of concrete canyons, NYC has more neighborhood parks, green spaces, or more specifically, places to sit than any city I have visited. Despite using transit, the "go, go" walking begs some rest periods – especially in the summer months when heat and humidity turn everything into a challenge.

There are so many NYCs - one for theatre-goers, shoppers, lovers of museums and art and architecture – the list goes on. Despite annual visits over the last nine years, we have not seen it all. 

We have never seen a Broadway show or spent much time shopping - foodie shopping being an exception. There’s the unbeatable Kitchen Arts and Letters Bookstore. Walking out empty-handed is nigh impossible, so if you go there first, be prepared to lug your purchases around all day. We once followed Bourdain’s advice to check out Chef Restaurant Supplies – though here’s an update on cool kitchen stores.

This year’s foodie highlight was Kalustyan’s. Though they have some ready to eat food, I’d describe this as a sort of “dry goods emporium”. They’ve been described as “a specialty market known for Indian & Mideastern spices, teas & other global food items”, and they describe themselves as a “landmark for specialty foods since 1944”. Upon entry, the shop may seem small, but each doorway is like a rabbit hole leading to another wonderland. The place left me gobsmacked.

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When it came to eating this year, though there is no end to new restos in NYC, inexplicably we made pilgrimages back to "been there" places like The Diner (in Williamsburg) and Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette. It is hard enough to keep up with new restos locally - in Toronto, even in Hamilton. In NYC – even more challenging. In The Guardian’s recent listing of NYC Top Best, I know all the neighbourhoods, but have not been to any of the restos. Another reason there must be a "next time". Not to be overlooked, we finally made it to the infamous Shake Shack. The "mother-ship" in Madison Square Park had been closed for a while, re-opening in 2015, but it was the location in Brooklyn that we stumbled upon. We may have ordered the wrong thing, but in truth, years of anticipation were better than the reality.

For us, over the last decade, NYC has been mainly a foodie adventure with a sprinkling of museums and the outdoors. More than once we have rented bikes (really the only way to see the bulk of Central Park). On the other hand, we had to make a point of visiting Times Square a few years ago – it was getting embarrassing to admit we’d never been there.

This year’s outdoors adventure was Governor’s Island. (See also their site.) Having stayed frequently in the Southern Seaport area, we knew exactly where the ferry departed for the short trip to the Island. Its history includes the fact that it was the (easily secured) location for the 1988 meeting between Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The story of the Island, which through most of its history was a military base, is utterly fascinating! Today few people live there and it is being devoted to public spaces and parkland – the latest section, called The Hills, having opened in July 2016. If you can take your eyes off the amazing and abundant abandoned housing, you get unique views of Manhattan. Rent bikes on site to explore it all, and take breaks for food and ice cream – and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Gov. Island: Unique view of Manhattan

Gov. Island: Unique view of Manhattan

Gov. Island: What we all need

Gov. Island: What we all need

Whether or not it is a city that never sleeps, NYC is certainly a city that never stands still. The changes from year to year were visible and over almost a decade - staggering. Though there must surely be municipal issues, the urban renewal and development seems to progress in an orderly way that appears to be aimed at improving quality of life - though I'd have a tough time convincing Brooklynites affected by the 15 month "L" train shutdown.

I know little about the Upper East or Upper West side - having infrequently ventured north of 94th Street. But changes in the South Seaport, Battery Park City, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, Pier 45 and the Meatpacking areas - just to mention a few - are, without exaggeration, astounding, stunning - and they're not over yet. Not to be overlooked are the ever-evolving neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Encouraged to visit DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), the first time was underwhelming. Now it is thriving, filled with views that make you smile - Jane's Carousel , and wee beaches. The Brooklyn Bridge Park offers green spaces, scenic views, art installments and more. Our first walk from Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan Bridge was a challenging crawl past empty decrepit warehouses, many of which have been now restored and put to good use - always with green space as part of the plan.

Am already mapping out future trips, hoping one day to see The Lowline (in development; not to be confused with the High Line), Bourdain's (not yet ready) new food market, and the Southern Seaport transformations. See you again soon NYC!

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Road-trip tip? If you want a break from the usual driving route that CAA and GPS suggest, make homeward bound up the Manhattan side of the Hudson River. Fit in a visit to The Cloisters if time permits. Approaching Yonkers, the road won't be next to the water, but there's still much to explore - cute towns (Nyack, Cold Springs) and art (Storm King, Dia:Beacon). If you can't make it home in that same day - explore Saratoga Springs or head over to Ithaca, and spend the next day exploring the Finger Lakes area.

If you are planning to visit NYC, you may enjoy my other related blogs - June 2016 and June 2015 (the year I began blogging - so nothing for the years before...)

Recipes. NYC trips are always inspirations for cooking, and some recipes made it to the blog - check out Black & White Cookies, and Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies, Linzer Cookies and Portuguese Muffins.

NYC Read: I like to read books set in my travel destination. This year's NYC read was Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney.

Just for laughs: when Greenwich Village = Grinch Village, it reminds me of cake decorating mistakes. Have you seen these?

 

Be Italian...

Life is better with a soundtrack, don’t you think? Imagine the perfect tune matched to your commute, or your walk in the park, or your cooking adventures. “Be Italian” would be on my playlist. I invite you to take two minutes to add some music to your day (click on photo).

Screenshot from YouTube Movie Trailer - click on image to play

Screenshot from YouTube Movie Trailer - click on image to play

In this 2009 Full Segment of the song, “Be Italian” is paired with sultry sexuality, and sand, and unforgettable choreography. You may also want to view the performance by the 1982 Broadway Cast.

If you haven’t clicked on the video yet – come on… try it… you’ll like it… If I cannot convince you to take a few minutes to watch this video, click on “Play” anyhow, and make it the soundtrack to reading this blogpost.

For some years now, Boxing Day has been “Go To The Movies Day” for me and Mr. KB and Son #2. The movies are often from the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Star Trek or Star Wars franchises. One year (2009) it was the film version of the (1982) Broadway musical “Nine”

No one was dragged kicking or screaming to the movie theatre to see this “musical”. Son #2 especially is a Fellini fan and Nine is based on Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½. It is a star-studded cast with Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Guido (a role that Fellini reserved for Marcello Mastroianni). Even Sophia Loren has a cameo role.

I’m not Italian, but a while back was startled to realize “Italian” was a theme in my life.

The realization came when I stumbled across this tip for “finding your passion” - “Look at your book collection, magazines, DVDs, CDs and credit card statements. Notice any themes?” [Source]

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? So much of my novel-reading, current and past, fiction and non-fiction has been set in Italy!! The Italian theme was indisputable (and almost spooky) when I added favourite music and movies to this mental inventory. And then there’s the cookies. If you’ve visited here often enough you know of my obsession with Italian cookies. That means I also have Italian cookbooks – and other favourite foods and cooking specialties that are Italian. For good measure, there have also been a couple of trips to Italy. 

Verni

Verni

Montepulciano

Montepulciano

Venice

Venice

Vernazza

Vernazza

As an aside, the “find your passion” quote comes from an Oprah site. I never watched the Oprah Show – it was daytime TV and I worked full time and was not enough of a fan to PVR it. I knew she gave away gifts, her book selections could rocket you to bestseller, and her guests sometimes jumped on the sofa.

I didn’t watch Oprah, but she was in my life. I was an "academic" in a post-secondary setting where the mantra was “research-based” and “theory-driven”. Critical thinking and dialogue were welcome, but more than once, students would disagree with established research or theories with their own mantra – “that’s not what Oprah says”. The “Oprah-fication” of science and medicine was trending enough to become the focus of critical articles. [Source 1, Source 2]

Oprah seems like a nice person. I’m not dissing her – though in the classroom I found myself at times disagreeing with her. This side story serves only to illustrate my surprise that I gained an insight from oprah.com, not a textbook.

So…  Italy is one of my passions. How could I not have known this? Are there any clues as to how or why this happened?

Despite growing up in a community that included Italians, I have few memories of Italy impacting my life in the first couple of decades. I was a teenager when I first had pizza and spaghetti. Undoubtedly, Chef Boyardee commercials would have been common (and that must have made real Italians groan).

My first outstanding encounter with Italian culture came via Lina Wertmüller, director of many films, though the two that I found to be most profound were Swept Away (1974) and Seven Beauties (1975). Mr. KB and I became fans both of her and her frequent lead actor – Giancarlo Giannini

Here’s a spooky link to 8 ½ . Through her diverse experiences in theatre, Wertmüller met Marcello Mastroianni, who in turn introduced her to Federico Fellini and, in 1962, Fellini offered her the assistant director position on 8½!! (1962). For Seven Beauties “Wertmüller was the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, and Kathryn Bigelow are the only other female directors nominated (with Bigelow the first to win)” [Source]

One day I must curate a collection of my favourite Italian things – though it would be a long, long list. Permit me the indulgence of sharing a few highlights… [or skip to the end for links to Italian recipes and favourite Italian bloggers] - and I hope in Comments you share your “Be Italian” favourite things.

Films - in addition to Wertmuller, the award-winning Best of Youth mini-series (which introduced me to the Jules et Jim soundtrack); the sweetest Venice film - Bread and Tulips;  the Sophia Loren and Clark Gable movie "It Started in Naples" (1960) - "Sure, sure - everybody loves Nando..." and that great song - "Tu vuò fà l'americano" (You Want To Be Americano).

Did I say highlights? Sorry for being long-winded... I could list so many more in each section. I'll control myslef - but email me if you want more movie, book pics.

Books - anything from Tim Parks (especially An Italian Education); Marlena de Blasi. This too could be a much longer list.

Music - any "Italian" Pink Martini song (Una notte a Napoli, Aspetta mi, Amado mio); Dominic Mancuso.

Cookbooks - well the obvious ones - you know who they are - plus my best sweets book - Dolci by Francine Segan.

Food - how can one choose... arancini, gnocchi and any pasta - will soon be trying Sugar Loves Spices Bucatini alla ‘Matriciana; and prosecco

Restaurants / Eats - Terroni, Buca, Forno Cultura

Cooking Shows - Gennaro and Antonio on Two Greedy Italians.

See... now I'm running out of steam. Please send me all your Italian reading, listening, viewing tips!

My Italian Recipe posts - Orecchiette with Sausage, Potato Gnocchi, (and more to come...)

My Italian Cookie posts - Anise Cookies, Mostaccioli, Tarrone, Lemon Twists, (quite a few I haven't posted yet...)

Favourite fellow bloggers who focus on Italian Cooking:

This says it all... è così o non è così?

[Source]

Click on the word "Comments", below, to share your "Be Italian" favourite things!.  If you enjoyed this read, please take a second to click on "Like"!