Virtual Gourmet

  March 26, 2023                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


"Une Soir de Grand Prix au Pavillon d'Armenonville" By Henri Gervex (1905)




By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani



On this week's episode of my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. March 29 EDT at 11AM EDT,I will be interviewing travel writers MALACHY DUFFY  and EVERETT POTTER, who will talk about the Golden Age of Travel and answer your questions. Go to: The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.



By John Mariani

Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce


            The Italian Baroque period flourished in the South more than in the North, but, while many would suppose that Naples exhibits the grandest face of that flamboyant style, it is in Puglia where it is most exemplary in a finer tone. So, too, the food of the region has been adapted to a modern style showcasing the seafood and ingredients of the region.
             Otranto, like so many towns on the coast of the Adriatic, located in the shadow of the massive Castello Aragonese, was always ripe for invasion and rule by others, including the Byzantines, Ottomans and French, since the late 15th century.  Its most magnificent sight is the Cathedral, begun in 1088 and home to extraordinary mosaic floors throughout. The first Gothic novel took place there:  The Castle of Otranto by English author Horace Walpole.
            The great pleasure of Otranto is walking its seaside walls at dusk and twilight, then to enter its maze of romantically lighted streets.  Near the Cathedral is one of the city’s finest restaurants, L’Altro Baffo, whose name, “the Other Baffo,” refers to how Cristina Conte left her father’s very traditional ristorante, Al Boffo, to offer her own take on regional cuisine.   
Within the kitchen she’s hired cooks from the Far East and Africa, who have influenced her daring style, best appreciated in the fixed price menu of 80€ (à la carte also available), which on the night I visited included crudi of the day’s fish (25€); maccheroni with redfish and a white fish sauce, dusted with Mediterranean powders (29€); mussels with a gratin of breadcrumbs and pecorino (14€); linguine with anchovies and red sponzale onions (20€); croaker with foie gras and fermented cabbage (23€); local lobster with cicala shrimp (15€); and for dessert cannoli stuffed with preserved fruits and orange foam (9€). Everything is presented on individual china, some dishes on skewers, so that it is all unique to Conte’s creativity.

    Lecce is one of Italy’s oldest (2,000 years), most beautiful and richly Baroque cities, called the “Florence of the South,” entered through its old triumphal portal (1548) onto broad streets whose buildings are made of a cream-colored limestone called “Lecce stone” that is easy to carve (they also used papier mâche for some of the effects.) Its Church of the Holy Cross is an astonishment of filigree adornment, completed in 1695. As a university town, it has been home to a broad array of famous Italians in the last century.
            One of its most delightful, remarkably inexpensive  trattorias is the five-year-old La Cucina di Mamma Elvira, a casual and very cheery place, rustic and busy. The food is wholly dependent on first-rate ingredients like the lustrous prosciutto and capicola (14€), the creamiest of burrata (a Puglian specialty), pureed fava beans and chicory (7€) and terrific meatballs with a rich tomato sauce (14€).
      Galatina is a mid-size town with a modest Baroque center with a late Romanesque church dedicated to Saint Catherine with very fine frescoes by Fran
cesco d’Arezzo.  Here is one of the most modern restaurants of the region, Stella del Mare (below), which actually dates back 100 years as a fish shop, now run by the third generation Mino and Martina d'Amato. It’s set on two levels with a wide open kitchen, and there is a blackboard menu listing the day’s specials that are smoked in a special glass enclosure.
      You begin with fried lentils that are like popcorn and some fritters of chickpeas called pettule to munch on. There is also a long sushi section of the menu (in English), with dozens of species from 12 to 15€. There are menu tasting options at 25€, 30€ and 40€.
        Everything is done with dazzle, including risotto with smoked green tea and a tartare of shrimp (22€); a carbonara style of blue fish (18€); gnocchi with a ragù of dentice (18€); monkfish with lentils and lardo fat (20€); paccheri pasta with octopus ragù; and linguine with sea urchins (22€).
         Food of the kind I’ve described here would not be found outside of Puglia—some of the seafood species would be a rarity—and prices are very gentle everywhere. A splurge with wine (tax and service included) would be half the price it would in Florence, Venice or Rome, and the  romantic baroque all around you is free.




52 East 41st Street


By John Mariani

            An old German proverb says, “If everything be done twice, everything would be done better.” Imagine then, if everything were done a thousand, ten thousand or a hundred thousand times with all due diligence, how marvelous something could be. More than any kind of restaurant, an American steakhouse is capable of such feats of consistent excellence, even with a broad menu. Unless complacency creeps in,  repeating and tweaking items as humble as onion rings and creamed spinach thousands of time each week  is going to pretty much assure they are every bit as good this year as last or next.
          Of course, the argument begins and ends with great beef of a kind that USDA Prime used to be the epitome. Alas, no longer, since that rating is now stamped on meat that would once have been considered mere Choice.
            The beef once only available in the best New York steakhouses like Peter Luger, Palm and Christ Cella is now rarely found outside of the city, least of all in the national chains (that now, sadly, includes the Palm). Fortunately, there are still steakhouses in New York that compete at the highest level to obtain the finest beef, and Benjamin’s Steakhouse—whose owners
Benjamin Prelvukaj and Ben Sinanaj both used to work at Luger—is among the very finest.
        Taking along one of Luger’s chefs, Arturo McLeod, they opened just south of Grand Central Terminal in 2006 and subsequently just east of the New York Public Library (people often confuse the two upon walking in). They now have another close by, called Benjamin Prime, and one in White Plains, as well as a first-rate seafood restaurant, The SeaFire Grill on East 58th Street.
         The two men took over the magnificent Chemist Club building, opened in 1911 as a private enclave for chemists and researchers, which closed in 1987 to become the Dylan Hotel. Its former boardroom, with its splendid mezzanine, is now the main dining room, with 175 seats, with party rooms located in other historic spaces.
        The steakhouse setting fits in impeccably with well-set tables topped with double white cloths, fine stemware and good lighting. The noise level can be problematic, unless you’re lucky enough to score one of the recessed curved banquettes. (You can always ask.) And unlike the sit-`em-and-move`em service at many other steakhouses around town, manager John Martinaj and company try very hard to welcome everyone, despite the crush at the host station.
         There are civilized touches: generous pats of butter and a dish of olive oil to go with the bread, rolls and sesame crackers; large plates heated to keep the food warm; when I asked for more dressing for my salad, the waiter brought not one, but two, ramekins.
         The wine list is extraordinary, which in New York it needs to be in face of the competition around town. Victor Dedushaj is the wine director for all the restaurants. He said that Prime has about 1,000 different wines, Benjamin Steakhouse about 600, SeaFire about 700 and White Plains about 1,000. And he said they have about 200 different liquors. Cocktails are also expertly and generously made.
There’s little on the menu you can’t find elsewhere, but the signature Benjamin salad ($25.95 for two), made with two greens, red onion, apple and a good amount of lump crabmeat, is outstanding. That same sweet crab goes into the crab cake ($29.95) without too much filler (above). Baked clams are fat and juicy ($18.95), not dried out by overcooking, and the tuna tartare ($26.95) was finely cut from excellent quality tuna bound with just the right amount of seasonings to make it spark. Benjamin’s soup ($17.95) of ground beef, potatoes and onions comes topped with puff pastry, almost like a pot pie.
         As already noted, Benjamin’s has top quality USDA dry-aged Prime beef and it is cooked to perfection, with a fine exterior char and an interior that oozes juices and buttery goodness. You can order it for two ($134.95), three ($202.95) or four ($269.95), with the bone, and a good portion of ours ordered for two went home with us that night. The Colorado rack of lamb ($64.95) is a hefty array of equally well-cooked meat whose bones have some of the tastiest bits. I applaud Benjamin’s for not even bothering to serve wagyu, whether facsimiles or true Kobe, because US Prime beef has so much more flavor than those cloyingly fatty cuts.
          Beef houses vary when it comes to serving lobsters, and not all do. Benjamin’s does, and a three-pounder (MP) was brought to the table steaming hot and remained so as the waiter deftly cracked its shell and removed the sweet meat with dispatch. (So often elsewhere this ritual takes so long that the lobster cools down.)
         Benjamin’s home fries ($15.95) are the potato dish to have, as are the rich creamed spinach  ($15.95) and exemplary onion rings ($16.95).
         Pace yourself but do have one of the sumptuous desserts, like the cheesecake ($11.95) or chocolate soufflé  ($13.95).
        Benjamin is not unique in New York—after all, it has a branch nearby—but in a city whose steakhouses compete so intensely so as to keep their menus similar and their prices in line, it stands out among the very best in its league. Add to that the cordiality of the service—not always a given elsewhere—and the careful coordination among host station, captains, bar, kitchen and waitstaff and Benjamin’s is a good template for all newcomers to try to meet.


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat.





By  John Mariani

To read previous chapters of GOING AFTER HARRY LIME go to the archive




“What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn't expect me to give myself up ... 'It's a far, far better thing that I do.' The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren't heroes. The world doesn't make any heroes outside of your stories.” — Harry Lime, The Third Man.


            The phone rang in David’s room at 1 a.m., when he was dead asleep.
            “Hello, who’s this?” he asked.
            “Frank English. You called me.”
            David shook himself awake, then saw it was past midnight. What was that in Washington? Six, seven o’clock? He figured Frank English knew and called late enough just to bug him.
            “Yeah,” said David, “thanks for calling back, Frank.”
            “Whaddaya want this time?”
           “A name, a number, whatever you can give me.”
            “About what?”
            “I’m over here in London with Katie Cavuto working on a story. You know the movie The Third Man?”
            “Sure.” English was giving no more to the conversation than he chose to.
            “Well, we’re over here trying to find out if there was a possible connection between the Harry Lime character in the movie and the British double agent Kim Philby. It’s farfetched but worth looking into.”
            There was silence on the other end, and David knew English was trying to put things together. Then the FBI agent said, “About as farfetched as you can get. That bullshit has been gone over before, and besides, Philby’s been dead for a long time. What do you want from me?”
            “Well, I was speaking with Gerry Kiley and he said that there’s no way I’m going to get any dossier intel on Philby merely because I’m over here snooping around.”
            “You got that right. Why would they talk to an ex-cop from NYPD about a burnt out case?”
            “OK, MI6 and MI5 wouldn’t. I get that. But is there perhaps some ex-MI6 or MI5 agent you might have worked with—”
            English cut him off: “Hey, David, I wasn’t around in the 1940s to know any of those people, so I don't know what J. Edgar Hoover would have known. Plus, the C.I.A. didn’t even exist until 1950, and Hoover hated the whole idea of working with them.”
            “True, but the C.I.A. was around when Philby was exposed as a double agent  in ’63.”
           “Yeah, but I think they were a bit busy with plans to invade Cuba back then and not interested in what happened to some toothless British turncoat.”
            “So, you don’t know anyone?”
            More silence. “I don’t know. Let me ask a few of the older guys here. If I find something, I’ll call you back.”
            David, trying to lighten up, said, “Could you make it at a daytime hour in London?  It’s after one o’clock in the morning.”
            “Yeah, I know,” said English. “I’ll call you when I get in tomorrow morning, which will be like, two in the afternoon for you.”
            “Thanks, Frank. I appreciate it.”
            English had already clicked off.


                                                           *                                  *                                  *

            The next morning David thought of going back to the National Archives, but over breakfast with Katie she said, “Let’s just take the day off. See some sights. I haven’t gotten any appointments, do you?”
            David said all he had to look forward to was a call-back from Frank English.
            “So, where do you wanna go?” he asked.
            “The usual tourist must-sees: the Queen’s palace, Tower Bridge, Big Ben. Whatever we see, we see.”
            “Fine, but I have to be back at the hotel around two when Frank might call.”
            “Okay, that gives us four, five hours. I’m wearing walking shoes.”
            “Then let’s go for a walk. Let’s bring umbrellas. The sun’s out but you never know."
            The couple spent the morning as Katie had suggested, marveling at the majesty of London’s royal buildings, the sweep of the Thames beneath the bridge, and the vast stretch of the Parliament, newly scrubbed clean to a putty color that grew orange in twilight.
            After a quick pub lunch, David returned to the hotel before two and waited for Frank English to call. An hour went by, then another, then the phone rang. 
No hello, just, “I’ve got a name and contact for you. May be worth nothing, but it’s all I could get.”
            “I appreciate it, Frank,” said David, a pen and paper at the ready.
           “I don’t know this guy, but apparently he was involved with the Philby scandal and may have some inside information. Retired ages ago from MI6 and lives outside of London. Name is Southey, Joseph Southey. Here’s his  number.”
            David wrote it all down and repeated it.
            “Thanks, Frank. I’ll put you in my memoirs.”
            “I’ll pay you to keep me out of them. So long, David.”
            David shut his eyes for a moment, thinking maybe he and Frank were back on track and that Joseph Southey might help turn over some new information from inside MI6.
            He called Katie, who had just gotten back to her room, and told her the news.
            “That’s great!” she said. “So, Frank English is a pretty good guy after all.”
            “I guess so,” said David, “at least out of professional courtesy. Okay, so let me call this guy and ask if we can see him tomorrow. See what it turns up.”
            As a reporter Katie knew that while every contact and interview did not reveal a great deal, there was always something to fill in the big picture, like the tiny piece of blue sky in a jigsaw puzzle landscape. She was holding out hope that, with all the pieces coming together, the picture would reveal a good story line for her work.
            David dialed Joseph Southey’s number, which rang six times before a man picked up.
            “Southey,” said the voice.
            “Mr. Southey, my name is David Greco. I’m an American over here in London, and I was given your name by an associate in the F.B.I.” David shouldn’t have said
associate’ but let it go.
            “And how might I help you, Mr. Greco?”
            David launched into a brief, well-rehearsed explanation of what he was after, acknowledging that it was a highly unusual request but that he and Katie were merely trying to find out information about the late Kim Philby, whom they understood Southey knew.
            Southey was quiet, then said, “Well, I can’t imagine what more I can tell you about the rotter. Most everything was in the papers and in books ever since, including Philby’s own completely delusional autobiography.”
            “Well, my colleague, her name is Katie Cavuto, has done a lot of research on Philby and still has some questions we thought you might be able to answer.  Would it be all right if we paid you a visit at your convenience?”
            “Oh, I suppose so. The Philby case was shut a long time ago and he’s been dead for years. I live in Hornchurch, Essex, about an hour out of Victoria Station (above) via the Underground. What time is it now? Nine. All right, catch any train and I’ll be here all day. Probably be out back in the garden.”
            “You’re a gardener, Mr. Southey? So am I,” said David, hoping to hold the man’s interest.
            “Well, then, even if I can’t tell you anything about Kim Philby, we’ll have something to chat about, won’t we?”
            David hung up and called Katie. “We’re in.Gotta catch a train to some place called Hornchurch. You ready for a trip to the country?”
            David was holding out hope that Southey could add new info to what they already had. At the very least another puzzle piece or, as Katie called it, background color. David began to think that even if Katie could prove Philby was not the inspiration for Harry Lime, that alone would be something.
            But Katie knew that would not be nearly enough.



                                                            *                                  *                                  *


            Like most regions not far from London, Hornchurch began as farm country, shifted to industry in the 19th century, then, with the arrival of the electrified railway—the  District Line—in the 1930’s, developed into a suburb with a large commuter segment. Typical of such towns, most postwar homes were an amalgam of cheap materials cobbled onto the most egregious clichés of fake Tudor architecture, with long row houses interrupted by pubs of unflinching sameness and names seemingly picked at random out of The Canterbury Tales, like The Wife of Bath and The Tabard Inn.
            The train arrived right on time at the Hornchurch station, and, following Southey’s instructions, Katie and David had a five-minute walk along High Street to North Street, turning into a small cul de sac, at the end of which was Joseph Southey’s small house, indistinguishable from the few others on the block. 
David rang the bell at the front door but there was no answer, so he and Katie walked around to the back, which opened onto a yard and garden cultured in the British manner, a balance of what appeared charmingly wild and what was carefully landscaped. An elderly man wearing a sunshade and gardening gloves was hunched over in the rear, cutting away large vines.
            “Is that giant hogweed?” David called out.
            The man turned and smiled. “Why, yes it is. Damn stuff invades everything. And I assume you are Mr. Greco and this is Miss Cavuto, is it?”
           Southey took off his gloves and sunshade and shook hands. He was in his late sixties, of average height, pot-bellied, mostly bald, with skin that showed he had spent a good deal of time in his little garden catching as much sun as the English climate allowed.
            “I’ve got the same stuff growing in my backyard in New York,” said David. “I cut it down, it keeps coming back.”
            “Use any weed killer on it?” asked Southey.
       “Yeah, mostly glyphosate,” referring to an all-purpose weed killer. “Doesn’t work all that well.”
            “Yes, well, I’ve tried everything. The real problem is my neighbors do nothing about their infestation, so the hogweed keeps insinuating itself into my little plot.”
 woman’s first name. Southey saw Katie was not going to join the conversation, so he said, “Well, then, let’s go inside. I’ll make some tea. Or would you Americans prefer coffee,” then, “If I have any.”
            “Tea is fine,” said Katie. “Please don’t go to any trouble.”
            “Tea is never any trouble. It’s an Englishman’s way of interrupting any and all unpleasantries in his life.”


John Mariani, 2016



Post-St. Patrick’s Day, It’s Time to
Talk About New Irish Whiskeys

By John Mariani


         Although there is always a flurry of articles about Irish whiskey in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, it may be the wrong time to praise them. The feast day is not known for its temperance, or for discerning drinking, so despite sales of Irish whiskey spiking (in a soaring market) in March, I think it better to discuss what’s new in a more sober post-St. Paddy’s Day conversation. Thus, here are some Irish whiskeys well worth savoring year round.  

FLYING TUMBLER—Based out of County Carlow,  brothers Thomas and Patrick Walsh named their whiskey after “a venturesome pigeon that sets out on great voyages across the globe while maintaining a natural beacon for home.” It is matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and neither chilled nor artificially colored. They make three types. The Bird  ($31.99), which is the only one currently available in the U.S.,  is a blend of triple distilled grain and malt  whiskeys aged in Oloroso sherry oak casks for over 12 months, then blended with triple distilled single grain and single malt whiskeys matured in ex-bourbon oak casks, at 43% alcohol.            

WRITERS’ TEARS  “RED HEAD” ($69.99)—Given Irish writers’ penchant for sentimentality, Writers’ Tears is well named. It’s a Single Malt Irish Whiskey that enters the producer’s array of Copper Pot, Double Oak and annual Cask Strength whiskeys. “Red Head” is matured in Spanish sherry casks, previously seasoned with the sweet Oloroso sherry, which gives the whiskey a ruby-colored hue, hence its name. It is bottled at 46% alcohol. The series began under creator Bernard Walsh in 2009, and now there are three of the limited-edition expressions in the range under the Writers’ Tears Copper Pot line of different finishes, including Ice Wine, Marsala and Mizunara. 

DINGLE SINGLE MALT WHISKEY ($100) —Single malt whiskeys are rare out of Ireland, though their number is increasing. Dingle was one of the first, and most expensive, produced as a core single malt, that is,  created entirely from its own spirit. It is a triple distilled, non-chill filtered whiskey bottled at 46.3% alcohol, from malt whiskey matured in ex-bourbon (39%), and PX Sherry Casks (61%), for six to seven years. There is also a sixth and final release of its Single Malt Batch series ($69) , with some 15,000 bottles  made with a Tawny Port maturation and with an additional 1,000 Cask Strength bottles available, at 46.5%.

POWERS IRISH RYE ($32)—Irish whiskey is always made with malted barley, except when it is not, and Powers is made from 100% rye—they claim it’s the world’s first— aged in American oak, arriving at 43.2% alcohol.  Powers is, however, no newcomer, having been founded by James Power in 1791 in Dublin as a distillery. Its introduction to the U.S. at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 gave it great popularity here. It is still bottled in-house, and they even created their own signature cut-glass tumbler to serve the spirits in.



"I also stayed in one of the world’s worst hotels in China. The foyer had a tarpaulin covered in some unusually dark stains and the room had bits of wall missing and stank of urine. I moved to a nearby hotel which was equally basic but clean, at least, although the TV was puzzling. It had a single channel showing a military man laden with medals berating a group of people for hours on end while they looked shamefaced."—Paul Merton: ‘I stayed in one of the world’s worst hotels in China’—London Times (2/28/23)


 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.



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


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