Virtual Gourmet

  May 31, 2020                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 




By John Mariani

Chapter Ten
By John Mariani

By John Mariani

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By John Mariani

         Perks—from  signing bonuses and annual incentives to housing allowances and use of corporate jets—have always been the grease of American industry, not least expense accounts for taking clients out for meals at high priced restaurants with trophy wine lists. In the best of times expense accounts may be abused with impunity, as with the “I-take-you-to-lunch-you-take-me-next time,” and in bad times restrictions are put in effect but usually loosen up if the entertaining results in new business. Not even the cut of business entertaining as a tax deduction to fifty percent had much effect on restaurant-going after industry adjusted.
      Now, however, the whole idea of lavish meals paid for by the company has been put into question by the current pandemic, not least because so much business is now conducted by video conversations.  I asked several executives in various industries what not being able to meet face-to-face over food and wine at a restaurant may mean in the future.


Susanne Flother, CEO  of Somnium, a company that makes high-end mattresses and works with design showrooms across the U.S.

        Traveling from coast to coast to visit our retail partners was something I have done regularly for years. Entertaining has always been part of that equation, whether it is in a restaurant in Miami or Seattle or having our presentations catered by a local restaurant in Chicago. The same goes for visiting conventions. But this spring alone I skipped trips to New Orleans, Milan and New York because the trade shows were canceled. All of those places are great food cities. As someone who was a restaurant consultant in a previous career, some great meals with business partners would surely have been part of those trips.
         Right now there is obviously no way to just pick up where we left off. My company has a few new products in the pipeline, and I usually fly around the country and introduce those personally to our business partners. In the short term, I imagine we will have to make do with video conferences instead of in-person meetings. That, obviously, will cut down on expenses, though I suspect it will also cut down on the effectiveness of the presentations. There is simply no match for a first-hand experience with a new product and its designer — especially if there is time to ask questions and delve deeper over a shared lunch.


Siggy Halma self-employed sales agent in Thousand Oaks, Calif., who has represented various companies in the leather goods industry for 44 years. 

        I believe that business people will be returning to restaurants, but it will be a slow process. We all have found out that frequent entertaining is not necessarily a must, but I believe that restaurants will grow their pick-up and delivery business to corporate offices in the next few months, and business people will feel more secure in their own surroundings.
      Companies that I represented before the virus hit did a fair amount of restaurant entertaining. though I believe that today’s business people will instead spend their leisure time by themselves rather than making small talk in packed, noisy restaurants and with the possibility of another virus lurking in the corner. Cramped little places will lose customers, at least with the business world, as they will be looking for larger restaurants because of the distancing requirements. Of course, you can forget important business talk when you have to sit six to ten feet apart from each other.
         Conventions and corporate travel, though still very important and necessary to do business, will slow down somewhat. Today’s technologies allow companies video conferences and business meetings, which save a lot of time and money, but of course it does not replace the energy and feeling of a real meeting.    



Dale Lerschpreviously an owner and CEO  of a market research company with offices in London and the U.S.; now a consultant in  global digital market research.

        Building accounts in the market research and consultancy space has always been not just dependent on your expertise, solutions and global footprint but on the ability to form relationships based on a trusted partnership. Having long-term client relationships among really large global corporate companies, some as long as 30 years, required forging an understanding of client strategic needs and objectives with a “client first” attitude. The best way to build these is in person: meetings, strategy discussions and presentations and, of course, entertaining. Typically going to lunch or dinner forms the personal relationship that can sustain and cement the work relationship.
         That said, even before the pandemic, it was becoming increasingly hard to create, from the client side, the time needed for these personal interactions. Demands of work schedules and deadlines were such that time off either wasn't possible or interfered with family time. With Skype meetings, Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings, video conferencing is more and more ubiquitous and works to provide at least a semblance of personal interaction. And now, certainly for the next year or until a vaccine is developed, clients in the major urban areas around the world will be even more hesitant to meet in person. 
    As so much of entertaining revolved around restaurants, bars and food, social distancing and/or masking guidelines would seem to prohibit the ability to enjoy those social interactions for the foreseeable future. I think there are likely to be some occasional small in-person meetings but those are likely to be catered and in an office or conference room.

Mary Cronin, an Associate Broker for Urban Living Real Estate in Pacific Palisades, Calif. 

         Before the virus I was out with friends/clients probably five nights a week. My lawyer called my restaurant activity my "marketing dollars," always being used.  I was traveling quite a bit before the virus hit. I would just leave at a moment’s notice and go. I also have gotten clients from attending happy hours, where I just meet random locals, who might be interested in buying or selling a property. Now I am doing Friday night Zoom happy hours with clients that have brought in about 40 people. Everyone is curious about the real estate market.
         I'm doing virtual open houses through Facebook and Instagram, which has been quite interesting to see so many people that join from all over the country. I feel they aren't buyers; they are just bored or curious!
         Now I don't foresee much activity within restaurants once they reopen. I think most people are scared but, besides that, I think eating in a restaurant with someone serving me and a client with gloves and a mask is not going to be like before.
          As far as expense accounts go, they will have to be put to use in a different way. I'm going to try and create a marketing plan that will focus more on created food/meals at home, to promote the home for sale. Doing in-home cooking events for my open houses. Hopefully between Facebook live, Instagram and Zoom I can interact with clients in a professional fun way.


By John Mariani


    Since, for the time being, I am unable to write about or review New York City restaurants, I have decided instead to print a serialized version of my (unpublished) novel Love and Pizza, which takes place in New York and Italy and  involves a young, beautiful Bronx woman named Nicola Santini from an Italian family impassioned about food.  As the story goes on, Nicola, who is a student at Columbia University, struggles to maintain her roots while seeing a future that could lead her far from them—a future that involves a career and a love affair that would change her life forever. So, while New York’s restaurants remain closed, I will run a chapter of the Love and Pizza each week until the crisis is over. Afterwards I shall be offering the entire book digitally.    I hope you like the idea and even more that you will love Nicola, her family and her friends. I’d love to know what you think. Contact me at
—John Mariani

To read previous chapters go to archive (beginning with March 29, 2020, issue.


By John Mariani

Cover Art By Galina Dargery


    The college was located quite nearby Nicola’s dorm, behind the Museo del Cinema, and had once been the minor palazzo of a 19th century banker who, befitting his stature, had hired a well-known architect of the day to design yet another neo-classic building to fit comfortably among its neighbors.  Its inner courtyard was spacious and sober, its columns Ionic, its embellishments few.  The classrooms had the look of classrooms anywhere in Europe or America, devoid of any decoration beyond some ornamental moldings and never-lighted fireplaces.
was taking a full complement of courses, as she would have back in New York, including some core requirements along with art history classes with a focus on the Renaissance.  The latter provided her with almost total free access to the city’s museums and monuments, from the vast Brera to the smaller galleries like the Museo della Permanente, the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna and the myriad churches of every era that dotted the city, including Santa Maria delle Grazie (left), where Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” mural was displayed in the refectory called Il Cenacolo.
    With ample time outside of class—Nicola didn’t actually find her classes particularly challenging or the professors scintillating—she planned to visit every repository of Renaissance Art in the city, starting with “The Last Supper,” then in a serious state of deterioration.  In fact, one of her professors told her she’d better hurry, lest the whole thing just fall off the wall in dry paint chips.
    The irony of the masterpiece’s condition was that Leonardo’s genius had lured him to experiment with a new method of painting directly on a dry rather than wet fresco wall, applying an undercoat of white lead that he believed would improve the luminous colors he could apply far more slowly than wet plaster would allow.
    But the technique was a failure from the moment the painting was finished, with humidity causing so much damage that, within sixty years of its completion, the artist’s biographer Giorgio Vasari declared the painting “ruined,” with the figures of Christ and his Apostles already unrecognizable.  Cutting a door through the bottom of the painting caused further damage, and a heavy curtain scratched off more flaking paint. Attempted restorations only made matters worse.
    Then, in 1796, Napoleon’s occupying army converted the room into a prison, throwing stones at the painting and scratching out several apostles’ eyes. During World War II the refectory took a hit from Allied bombers, which made the exterior wall even more unstable.
    Only in 1978, after extensive scientific testing, was a modern scientific restoration begun, scheduled to take two decades, so that what Nicola beheld, ten years into the job and at a pre-appointed time when the painting was open to view, was a bewildering pastiche of glued-on chips of Leonardo’s original paint, some smaller than the size of a postage stamp, and 20th century watercolors applied by the restorers. 
    In the very low light of the room, Nicola had to let her eyes adjust to discern whatever colors still remained on the wall.  Aware of the painting’s condition before visiting Il Cenacolo, she was probably more dismayed than shocked, because for her entire life she’d been looking at reproductions of “The Last Supper” in all their falsified glory, the colors bright, the contours of the clothes crisp, and Christ’s face beatific.  In those reproductions you could see details that were not even in the actual painting, while other objects, each a symbol, were not to be found at all, residing under dirt or chipped away.  Nicola left the room wondering if in her lifetime she would ever be able to see Leonardo’s painting looking anything like he’d intended it.
    Ironically, though Leonardo spent 17 years in Milan as court painter to Lodovico Sforza, the city was not rich with the master’s work; much of it undertaken but never completed, like his designs for the central cupola of the city’s Cathedral. The Ambrosiana Library owned his “Portrait of a Musician” with his bright red skull cap (above), and Castello Sforzeto held a rich cache of Leonardo’s drawings, called the Codex Trivulzianus (left). But the bulk of the artist’s works had long ago been scattered to museums throughout Europe over centuries. Nicola hoped someday to visit them all.
    There were no Leonardos at the Brera, which was also the name of the neighborhood where the Academy of Fine Arts and Art Gallery were located, surrounded by markets, shops and trattorias Nicola came to frequent with her friends.  The  Academy was known for its study programs, which included the fine arts and fashion design, while the Gallery was Milan’s greatest art museum, set within a palazzo once controlled by the Jesuits.
        To Nicola, the Brera seemed inexhaustible, nearly 40 rooms of art that included the stark “Lamentation of Christ” by Mantegna, the quiet dignity of  “The Holy Conversation” by Piero della Francesca, the theatrical “Finding of the Body of St. Mark” by Tintoretto and the daunting, dramatic realism of “The Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio (below). 
    Nicola found the lighting was very poor in many rooms and a surprising number of paintings clearly needed restoration, their colors sapped by dirt and successive varnishings, with nuances hidden under paint that had interacted with the elements—including Milan’s smog—to turn paint black and blue. In such paintings heavens were not blue but gray,  gold leaf had turned brown and the flesh of robust nudes was ashen.
    This was true of many of the museum and gallery holdings in Milan, as it was in other Italian cities, and for the first time Nicola thought that she might wish to go to graduate school to learn the exacting craft of restoration, to release the life of these wondrous images beneath a murky, temporal world. Indeed, “Rembrandt lighting” had once been a technique to artificially “age” a painting with brown varnishes to make them look like old Rembrandts that were just dirty.
        Nicola had seen the striking effects of careful restoration at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the colors jewel-like, beautifully modulated through light overpainting and tinted glazing.  A woman’s hair once thought to be a russet red emerged in many shades of gold, and the faces in Rembrandt’s portraits, once ocher, now showed off the pink bloom of health in his subjects’ faces.
        Nicola was not at all sure she had the patience for restoration—a single painting could take years, after months of analyzing it with the most modern technologies—but she was now convinced that so much of what she’d seen and heard from her professors about how the dark, dreary colors an artist used manifested his subjects’ gloomy states of mind was erroneously based only on what they could see, not what the painter had intended them to see.   Nicola knew that even sculptures, whose artists might polish highlights on the marble’s surfaces for months to get just the right softened effect of light, had also deteriorated into dulled uniformity, often relegated to a staircase alcove with no light at all.
        Never did Nicola sleep late, though Catherine often did, and if Nicola ever cut a class it was only to visit another gallery that, in typical Italian fashion, was only open for two hours on days of the week that always seemed to change.  On one of those days, she went to see an exhibition of Italian Futurists at the Museo della Permanente on the Via Filippo Turati.

"Ritratto del Nipote" by Regina in the Museo della Permanente

        With only an hour to spare, Nicola hurried in under the arched entrance, rushing by a two people leaving arm in arm.  The man turned and called, “Nicola?” Nicola knew immediately that it was Rhys St. John.  She stopped in her tracks and turned slowly to find it was indeed her ever-lecherous professor, accompanied by a very pretty Italian girl who looked to be about twenty-five.
        “You’re here to see the Futurist exhibition?” he asked.
        Nicola responded, “Of course. And you’re here working on your sabbatical project?”
        “As a matter of fact I am. Here and there.  The city is rife with research material.”
        Nicola said nothing, looking at the girl and thinking him being rude for not introducing her. She then stuck out her hand. “Io mi chiamo Nicola.”
        Believing Nicola was Italian, the girl replied, “Piacere, io mi chiamo Paola.”
        St. John broke his silence, saying, “Ah, Nicola, I forgot you speak Italian. Mine’s terrible but Paola speaks perfect English.”
        He then nodded to her and said, “Nicola was a student of mine at Columbia. When was that? Freshman year?”
        “M-hm. And Paola is one of your students here, I assume?”
        “Research assistant, actually.  She’s been tremendously helpful ferreting out the most obscure documents for me in the archives here.”
        “I’m sure she has,” said Nicola, without a trace of a smile.
        “What are you studying, Nicola?” asked Paola.
        “Mostly Renaissance art. Good place for it. Are you from Milan?”
        “No, Firenze. That’s where I met Rhys,” which she pronounced with just the faintest hint of an “a” on the end. “Now we go everywhere together,” she said with an equally faint hint of snobbery.
        Nicola noticed that St. John was not wearing his wedding ring, then stroked her own ring finger, making sure by a glance that he knew that she knew.
        “Well,” said St. John, clearing his throat, “we’re off to lunch. Perhaps, er, you’d like to join us?”—sure that Nicola would say no.
        “Thanks, but I haven’t time,” she said, then, directly at Paola, “Nice to meet you, Paola.  Arriverderci,” hoping to God she didn’t think Nicola had been one of his “girls.”
        St. John said, very awkwardly, “Ciao, Nicola. Enjoy Milan.”
        Nicola tried to think of the Italian word for “bitch” but said nothing and resumed walking through the archway.  She looked back over her shoulder squarely at St. John, shaking her head and mouthing, but not quite saying, “gumar.” 
When Nicola got back to the dorm, she found Catherine propped up in bed flipping through  a copy of Italian Vogue. 
    “You’ll never guess who I just ran into,” said Nicola, throwing her book bag on her bed.
    “Marcello Mastroianni?”
    “I should be so lucky. No, his exact opposite.”
    “Rhys Shit Jinn?”
    “How’d you know?”
    “I didn’t, I just thought of the exact opposite of Marcello Mastroianni and his face popped into my mind. So, where?”
    “Coming out of the Museo della Permanente, with his”—she made quotation marks in the air—“researcher, who’s about twenty-five.  She’s holding on to him and she says, `Ooh, we just-a do-a evrrrytheeng together!’”
    “She’s Italian?”
    “Very much so.”
    “What’d he say?”
    Nicola laughed and replied, “He just bumbled through the awkward moment, probably thinking I’ll call his wife on him.  Maybe I should.  The guy’s not just a creep, he’s a predator creep.”
    “Yeah, but it’s not like people on campus don’t already know it.”
    “True, but he makes my skin crawl. And he’s still wearing that same crappy tweed jacket.”
    Catherine made a face, then changed the subject, throwing Nicola the fashion magazine. “Hey, Nick, did you know the Milan Fashion Week is coming up next month?”
    “I hadn’t given it much thought.”
    “Well, it is, and I think I can get us tickets to go one of the days. And didn’t you say your father has some connections in the industry?”
    “Oh, yeah. I guess I could ask him.”
    “Okay, you ask yours and I’ll ask mine. It’ll be fabulous. I really think the Italian designers are so much more fun than the French.  French couture is too formal or wacko or just plain boring.  All that monotone black and white.  Did you see Saint Laurent’s Caribbean dancer look for summer?  Who’s going to wear that, unless you work as a bar girl in a nightclub in San Juan?”


© John Mariani, 2020




By John Mariani

Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager" (1942)

    “Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine,” said Bette Davis.“It means they’re phonies.”
       Well, maybe Bette never tasted a superb white wine like Corton-Charlemagne from Burgundy or a magnificent dessert wine from the Rhine Valley. Or any of a high number of great white wines.  I do understand what she meant, however, especially in those days back in the 1960s when there were no great American or Italian white wines, and the most popular German white wine was Liebfraumilch.  But today the choices for wonderful whites that go particularly well with summer food, both indoor and out, are myriad—from lush viogniers from the Rhône Valley and creamy chardonnays from Napa to the great sweet wines like Bordeaux’ Sauternes or any late harvested rieslings from the U.S.
       Once white wines were more for quaffing along with a smear of Brie cheese on a cracker or as a mere accompaniment to seafood.  And there are still plenty of bland, neutral tasting white wines that fill that bill.  There are also far too many California Chardonnays so heavily woody from being aged too long in oak that they taste more like the barrel than they do the grape.
        Still, chardonnay is the grape by which all dry white wines are measured, and the wines from Burgundy’s Côte d’Or (the Golden Slope) are justifiably world famous and very pricey.  Most Burgundies, white and red, are the products of vineyards that may have several owners or negoçiants who buy and sell their wines.  So unless you begin to learn the finest negoçiants or labels of the region, it’s best to trust your wine shop.  But there will rarely be any disappointment if you ask for wines from regions like Bâtard-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Corton-Charlemagne, which are the cream of the crop in Burgundy, and can easily cost $150 and more per bottle, though there are good examples under $50. This is Burgundy in excelsis—marvelously complex whites with a fine balance of citrus and honey, without the intrusion of too much oak.  And, unlike 99% of the white wines in the world, the finest white Burgundies can age for several years and improve in the process.  Chablis, also a Burgundian, has a flintier, crisp style, with the best proudly bearing the words “Grand Cru” (Great Growth) on the label.
        There are, of course, first-rate Chardonnays out of California, and no host will be thought a phony for serving one of the reserve bottlings (meaning it’s aged at least two years at the winery) from Robert Mondavi, Chalone, Pahlmeyer, Patz & Hall, and Joseph Phelps. Wines of this stripe, which usually have all the levels of flavor of Burgundies with an added boost of vanilla, will run $40 and up.
        Viognier became rather fashionable a few years ago, when California winemakers known as the “Rhône Rangers” began making the varietal in the style of the Rhône Valley’s Hermitage Blanc and Condrieu, which were not until recently widely available in the U.S. market.   Viogniers have a bit more alcohol to them, with wonderful aromatic flavors of peach and flowers.  Among the California bottlings look for viogniers from Jade Mountain, Calera and Alban Mt.
    With this kind of range and diversity, from elegantly dry to sensually sweet, it’s difficult to imagine even Bette Davis at her most curmudgeonly turning up her nose at such fine wines.  


Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Clos 2016 ($150)—This impeccable example of the finest Chablis has grown better each year since its release, and, with its flinty, lemon-rich flavors and strong finish on the palate, it promises to be even better for the next four to five years. For a crash course in Chablis, this is the first one to taste so that you can measure all else afterwards. Very pricey but it holds the flag of Chardonnay very high.


Angelo Gaja Gaia & Rey 2017
($280)—Italy is certainly not famous for its white wines, but Angelo Gaja of Piedmont most certainly is, and this full-bodied chardonnay, named lovingly after his grandmother, is his crowning achievement thus far.  The expansive and expanding flavors of the wine are cuddled with finesse, and it is as easily enjoyed with simply grilled Dover sole as with a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This is the white wine that proved Italian Chardonnays could rank with the finest Burgundies. It is named after Lucia and Angelo Gaja's daughter, Gaia Gaja, and Angelo Gaja's grandmother, Clotilde Rey.



The Royal Tokaji Wine Company Tokaji Aszú Essencia 6 Puttonyos ($115 for 500 ml bottle)—This was the dessert wine of Hungarian kings, and since the Soviet Union relinquished its sloppy stewardship over Hungary’s vineyards in 1990, this is again a unique wine that tastes of dried apricots, apples, and figs, with a silky, liquorous texture and low alcohol. It is indeed the essence of the grape called furmint. The six puttonyos on the label indicates the highest quality possible.



M.A.N. Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($8)—From South African vineyards in the warm region of Agter-Paarl,  higher elevation, cooler vineyards in Stellenbosch and Elgin for herbaceousness, the grapes take advantage of what they call down there the “warrelwind,” or whirlwinds that blow through them in summer. This gives a new edge to Sauvignon Blanc, not the overly fruity style of New Zealand and California but closer to that of the Loire. A dose of 6% Semillon seems to make the difference in the aromatics. And get a load of that price!

J. de Villebois Sancerre 2018  ($33.99)—It makes no sense that a few wine writers have been dismissing Sancerre as a mere “go-to wine” on restaurant menus (the same ones who used to diss Chardonnay), but I’d happily drink this Loire Valley Sancerre anywhere. It’s got full floral fragrance, a pleasing vegetal undertone and, with 13% alcohol, a reasonable heft for the varietal. Joost de Willebois took over the estate in 2004 from a vigneron in the Touraine region  with no successor and with his wife, Miguela, has maintained and upgraded the winery since.


Inama Vignetti di Carbonare Soave Classico 2017 ($25)—I usually shy away from Soaves more than a year old, but the age on this lovely example has its own personality and depth, with lots of Garganega fruit and refreshing citrus. The minerals come from the waters of the Dolomites. I’ll drink this with spaghetti with garlic and clam sauce or branzino on the grill all summer long.


Domaine Anderson Chardonnay 2017 ($30)—Both the Boonville area and the Mendocino coast provide the grapes from this family-owned winery in Anderson Valley, Calif., and it’s a solid effort with layers of lightly toasted oak and sufficient lemony acid. The grapes are picked in the cooler nighttime, fermentation done in 60-gallon French barriques, then aged for ten months. I’m glad I don’t taste the beeswax mentioned on the winery’s site, but I agree with their pairing with lobster and melted butter.  



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 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring his master back from the edge of despair. 


“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.


The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe,  The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  THIS WEEK:

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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