LE FRITTOLE: The Pig Boil, Calabrian Style


My introduction to le frittole came early in my time in Calabria when I was invited to a student’s house in the country to participate in the experience. I must say that I was impressed with the master of ceremonies and his wife. They were just regular people—a civil servant and schoolteacher—who as far as I was concerned, had impressive countrified skills.Read More

Christmas Eve at St. Peter's

Christmas Eve at St. Peterʼs


Arms pinned to my sides, neck craned, strobe-like lighting accompanying a vertiginous din . . . the memory of my visit to the Sistine Chapel many summers ago. An unfortunately negative experience that featured hordes of unruly tourists and their flashing cameras left me with a less than favorable association with the Vatican. So when my friend Veronika suggested that we go to the Mass on Christmas Eve at St. Peterʼs, I hoped that this would be one ticket I wouldnʼt win.Read More

Beautiful Mushrooms

Calabrian Eateries: Mushrooms


Whenever I think of mushrooms, I think of the little old Italian woman who picked the wild ones growing in the front yard of our house in suburban New Jersey. She would always knock on our front door and ask permission. The first time, my mother hesitated, not knowing if they were poisonous. “No! They are good, very good, “ she responded, or at least that’s how we interpreted her enthusiastic gesticulations.Read More

Thanksgiving in Italy

An American Thanksgiving in Italy


“What are you going to do for Thanksgiving?” If it weren’t for the e-cards from family and friends, Thanksgiving could easily pass unnoticed when living abroad. Everyone has heard of the holiday. The colorful images of robust turkeys, friendly native people and buckle-shoed Pilgrims have even lent a certain popularity to what may be America’s most characteristic celebration.Read More

San Martino

Calabrian Eateries: La Festa di San Martino


November 11th is celebrated as Saint Martin’s Day in many European countries. Historically, the feasting marked the end of the agrarian season and initiated a period of fasting that eventually became Advent. Saint Martin or Martin of Tours lived in the 4th century, started out as a Roman soldier, left the army to became a monk and ended up the bishop of Tours.  Best known for sharing his military cloak with a beggar, who subsequently came to him as Jesus in a dream, St. Martin is the patron saint of beggars, tailors, children, soldiers, geese, innkeepers, vintners and France.
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Calabrese or Calabrian Woman

Calabres, Calabrese, Calabresi??


When people ask me what my book’s about and I start talking about Calabria, the word calabrese often comes up. “So does it have something to do with calabres?” At first I was surprised that many people seemed to have more of a familiarity with an Italian form of a word than its English translation. I then came to realize that, whether heard spoken by a friend or co-worker or seen written on a restaurant menu, the original Italian term may actually be used more frequently than its English counterpart. Read More