Virtual Gourmet

  October 22, 2023                                                                                                       NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Paul Newman and Shelley Winters in "Harper" (1966)




Part One

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

CHAPTER Forty-Three
By John Mariani


By John Mariani




                    Called the “Capital of Delight,” Graz, Austria,
                              Is Rich in Culture, Food and Wine

Part One

By John Mariani

Uhrturm Clock Tower
Photo by Markus Spenger


         You may be forgiven if the city of Graz (pronounced "Graads") does not leap to mind when thinking of Austria. Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, perhaps Linz, but I suspect most Americans know little or nothing about Austria’s second largest city (after Vienna), which covers 50 square miles, with a population of nearly 300,000. Today the historic center consists of over 1,000 buildings, their age and architecture ranging from Gothic to contemporary.
lled the “Capital of Delight,” Graz is one of Europe’s most baroque cities, and it has its own sumptuous cuisine and dining scene that includes daily farmer’s markets—the oldest is Kaiser-Josef-Markt—where you can find everything from indigenous fruits and vegetables and wines to prepared wursts, breads and pastries and cheeses. There you’ll find Murodner potatoes, Kernöl pumpkin seed oil (widely used in cooking) and local beers like Reininghaus Edel Pils and Puntigamer Lager. In the fall the city celebrates the Graz Truffle Fe
stival, with seven varieties offered.
         My wife and I spent three days in Graz after taking a three-hour train ride from Vienna, which, this being Austria, left and arrived on the split second promised. We immediately found that much of the central historic city is blocked to vehicles, so our taxi route from the train station was circuitous to our hotel. Within the city the tram and bus lines are a phenomenon of efficiency, frequency and dependability, and they operate pretty much on the honor system of payment. (See note on the Graz Card below.)

We checked into the Parkhotel (Leonhardstrasse 8; 43-316-36300), whose location as the Inn of the Golden Pear dates back to 1574, its present building to 1867, acquired by Maria and August Florian in 1934 as Parkhotel. Happily quiet (Graz is not a loud city at all), its décor, if dated, is very traditional, and comfortable, with King beds and air-conditioning (not always a given in Austria); its Florian restaurant is elegantly composed and, to indicate how well Graz’s dining scene is doing, we couldn’t get a reservation there that night, or at two other places. A buffet breakfast the next  morning in the sunny enclosed terrace was lovely.
         We did get into a lovely restaurant named Gasthaus Stainerbauer (Burgergasse 4; 0316-821-106; right) that evening, set by candlelight with courtyard tables in good weather. Chef Werner Wiener prepares all the Styrian “grandmother’s favorites,” including an excellent Wiener Schnitzel (€27.80); calf’s liver with mashed potatoes and horseradish (€23.80) and Tafelspitz (€25), as well as marinated Arctic char with char mousse (€16.50), wild garlic cream soup with truffled ravioli (€6.90) and medallions of venison with apple-elderberry gravy (€36.50). Scheiterhaufen (€11.50) is a bread pudding dessert with apples and whipped egg whites. The wine cellar is very well stocked with Austrian bottles, but they serve no liquor or cocktails.
         The next  morning we were on our feet for five hours, walking through a city whose streets are impeccably clean, whose trams are quiet, and whose people all speak English to one degree or a another. We had a superb guide for a tour I’d recommend highly, named Sigrid Alber (, who knew ever building’s history, each baroque façade, every pane of stained glass and all the varied legends of Graz, leading us to the Rathaus Town Hall, up Castle Hill with its demolished fortress and Uhrturm clock tower that dominates the skyline, and the beautiful Gothic cathedral, whose frescoes portray the fearsome Landplagenbild (“plague of plagues”) that invaded the city in 1480—locusts, pestilence and, to top it off, the Turks.
         The city center bans tall buildings and favors the historic ones, so the food stores and boutiques have great local charm, although the Kastner & Öhler department store on Sackstrasse is as modern as in any major city, with six floors and a lunch café at the top, overlooking the city. At the foot of Schlossberg is the Genussladen, opened in 2002, a big, bountiful store specializing in products from small farms and producers, with more than 1,400 delicacies to choose from.
         We had lunch that afternoon at another aerie, Aiola Upstairs, located atop Schlossberg (43-316-818-797) on a glassed-in terrace with 120 seats (another 60  inside). Chef Michael Fischer offers an eclectic menu with several light items on it and a great deal of color, as in his white wine risotto with pumpkin, sheep’s cheese, chives and prawns (€37.50) and lake char filet with fregola Sarda, zucchini and black pepper foam (€32.90). For dessert have the “Love Handles” of chocolate, mango and passionfruit (€14.50).
         After more touring we strolled through the curving and angled streets of the Lend and Gries districts,  full of cafés, pastry shops, children’s clothing stores and wine shops—and, if you crave any type of international food, including sushi, there are plenty of options. In late afternoon we walked through the park, designed by German architect Johannes Schirgie von Premstätten-Tobelbad, and past the truly lovely Café Promenade (Erzherzog-Johann-Allee 1’ 43-316-813-840), which has been there since 1870 and is ideal for breakfast, tapas or a light dinner. Sitting outside and watching passersby walk slowly through and around the park is one of the most delightful ways to spend time in the evening, drinking coffee with pastry and a nightcap, which, with our hotel just blocks away, blissfully ended our first night.


If you go: Best way to enjoy Graz is to purchase the GRAZ CARD, which gives you free access to public transportation and to many museums and sights around the city. A card for 24 hours is 26, for 48 hours 34 and for 72 hours 39. You can buy them on-line at


Tipping: Tipping is not requisite in taxis or restaurants, but rounding off the bill is a congenial gesture. A restaurant tip of ten percent would be fine. Taxes are included.



8 West 40th Street

                                                                                        By John Mariani



         Few words can cause us all to swoon as will “bakery”—a warm place full of the wonderful aromas of yeast, browning crusts, toasted nuts, melted chocolate and cooked fruit. We never lose our childhood affection for going to a bakery, staring through the window and counter, and even if most American breads usually come in a plastic wrapper made in a corporate kitchen, the opening of a bakery with superior breads and desserts is always greeted as joyfully as if a new toy store opened in town.
        Which is why the opening of the Heritage Grand Bakery across the street from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park has been greeted with both broad smiles and deep appreciation. And the opening of an adjacent restaurant featuring dishes that include the kinds of ancient grains that go into the breads is a double win for that neighborhood. Simply walking by the open door when the ovens are pouring forth their aromas is to tempt being late for work in the morning or to linger in the afternoon and take some items home at night.
         The premises used to be the estimable Maison Kayser, whose original opened in Paris in 1996, soon to have 150 locations in 22 countries, but whose U.S. branches went into bankruptcy three years ago. The new premises have a kind of  modular taverna design, with tables set against arched walls of beautiful rough stone of a kind you’d find on a Sicilian quay. Wooden tables are bare, lighting excellent, and the noise level quite congenial, as is the entire staff.
        Next door is the bakery, from which come many of the items on the restaurant’s menu. It offers a huge variety of coffees and teas, along with hard-to-choose-among delights like apricot almond rolls, crisp baguettes, ciabatta, einkorn loaf, seeded boule, ham and Gruyère croissant and fudge brownies.
        “Our Heritage grains are healthier because we practice time-honored methods of milling flour without chemical additives,” says their website. “This tradition, and technique, using unadulterated ingredients, retains more nutrients, and does not deposit unsafe chemicals into our environment,” which is an added virtue to the wonderful baked goods served there.
        The menu in the dining room is mostly Mediterranean, beginning with starters like boquerones of marinated anchovies ($12) and arrosticini Abruzzese ($18), grilled lamb skewers with cool tzatziki and a dose of chili oil favored by the people of Italy’s Abruzzo region. Given its bakery,  Heritage was bound to do pizza, and the various thin-crusted selections include a good, spicy alla diavola with soppressata salami, fior di latte mozzarella, tomato sauce and chili oil ($23).
        Going with the flow, you should have the sumptuous Ancient Grains salad of arugula, cherry tomatoes, apples, shallots, toasted seeds, feta and lemon ($16). Of the two pastas on the menu, I loved the spaghetti alla ghitarra amatriciana ($24) with guanciale bacon, crushed tomato, chili and an enriching amount of pecorino.
        The wood-fired whole branzino, perfectly cooked, came with pistachio chermoula, green beans and the delightful flavor of charred lemon ($29). A fine grilled bavette steak took on further interest from za’atar-spiked French fries and a tangy sauce persillade ($29). The hefty roasted chicken gets its many flavors from Tunisian spices and a salsa verde and fingerling potatoes (for a very moderate $270).
       Desserts (all $10) include a last-of-summer strawberry rhubarb cheesecake, macarons with raspberries and an olive oil cake.
        The friendliness of the owners and staff is as much at the heart of Heritage Grand Bakery as is serving the kind of comforting food everyone loves to eat. Add to that the commitment to the healthiest of grains, and you have a unique new entry in Midtown Manhattan.


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.



By  John Mariani

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

      They settled onto the sofas and Katie asked if she could record their conversation, to which Toth agreed. She began on a flattering note.

         “By the way, Mr. Toth, my editor tells me you have a very fine collection of old automobiles.”
         Toth tilted his head back and forth. “I suppose you could call it world class. As you can imagine, under the Soviets it was not easy to buy such cars. Most of them I’ve acquired since the Russians left Hungary. I’d be happy to show them to you after our interview. I’m sure you’ll be interested in them, Mr. Greco.”
         “So,” said Katie, “I suppose the first thing to ask—and I’m sure I won’t be the first—is how you came to speak such perfect English.”
         “Well, it helped to have spent my early childhood in England. My parents had moved to London in the 1920s—my father felt that the Russian Civil War would spread to Hungary—so I spoke both Hungarian and English growing up. I learned German at Oxford.” Katie recalled that MI6 told her Neame had gone to Oxford.
         “And your parents came back to Hungary after the war?”
         “No, but I was drafted into the British Army and, because I spoke German, I was posted to Vienna right after the war, then moved to Hungary in the early fifties.”
         “You had a background in the pharmaceutical industry?” asked David.
         “Yes, I got a good grounding in drugs in the Army and was in charge of a medical unit after D-Day. Terrible carnage. But, you know, the Allies were the only ones to have ample supplies of penicillin, so our wounded fared much better than the Axis soldiers.
         “Afterwards, it seemed a good thing to get into pharmaceuticals, especially in Hungary, which was so far behind in medicine and totally dependent on the Soviets for post-war investment in hospitals and medical supplies. It was pretty grim there for a while, but I’m proud to say that I had a hand in making progress, even under the Russians. I found that as long as their priorities were attended to, I would get most of what I needed.”
         “So were you the founder of Hungaria Pharm?” asked Katie, trying to keep for the moment to a straightforward business interview.
         “Yes, with the Soviets’ blessing. I went through all that in Mr. Frankel’s interview and I’m sure you can look up all the facts and dates. Suffice it to say I was doing a good job at building up a market for Hungarian drugs in Eastern Europe, and eventually I acquired fifty-one percent of the company. Since Hungary became independent, I’ve been able  to expand to markets outside of the former Soviet satellites.”
         “And the other forty-nine percent?”
         “Investors, mostly from Eastern Europe.”
         “And you became rich enough to build a great car collection,” said David.
         “I was doing all right before 1990, but, yes, most of my wealth has accrued since then. But frankly, as you may have read, at my age I’ve been devoting a great deal more of my time and resources to philanthropy.”
         Katie could tell this was what Toth really wanted to talk about, so she humored him.
         “Can you tell me more about that?”
         “Happy to. Under the Soviets philanthropy was basically unknown.  The state provided for everyone, or at least that was the party line. The truth was that hospitals went without needed supplies, and, with regard to children’s health problems in particular, the record was shameful. Right from the beginning, I tried to change that, but it was tough going under the Soviets, not least in the state orphanages, which the Communists regarded as an inconvenient drain on resources. Since 1990 I’ve been able to do something about that and have taken over the management of two orphanages. I hope to take over more and consolidate them. As you can imagine, there is a great—well, I don’t want to say ‘market’—but a great demand outside of Hungary to adopt our orphans. It’s still tricky business—the red tape is both disgraceful and depressing for both sides—but I’m trying to cut through all that as best I can to make it easier for these children to get permanent homes.”
         Both Katie and David knew Toth was spinning his story as would any industrialist, wanting to show his best side and to avoid talking about the more controversial aspects of his business dealings. Still, Toth’s commitment to philanthropy and in particular to children’s issues seemed genuine. Perhaps it was Harold Neame’s way of making up for his activities during the war. 
It even occurred to David that maybe this man was not Harold Neame at all. Could it be that Philby had deliberately conflated Neame and Toth just to distance himself from Harry Lime? After all, MI6 had not been able to make any definite link to Toth. And David had not seen the photo of Toth with Greene that Katie had found on the bookshelf.
         “Another beer, Mr. Greco?” asked Toth. “I’m getting a bit thirsty myself.” He turned to one of his assistants and in Hungarian asked for another beer and a glass of Scotch. “Nothing for you, Miss Cavuto?”
         “Thanks, I’m good,” she said, flipping her notebook to another page.
         “Mr. Toth, I couldn’t help notice that on your bookshelf you have a photo of what looks like yourself when you were younger with the British novelist Graham Greene. Did you know him?”
         Toth took the glass of Scotch from a tray brought by his assistant, took a sip and smiled broadly.
         “Ah, you noticed that. Superb writer, Greene. As you can see I have many of his books in my collection.”
         “Yes, I saw that. And you met him?”
         “Yes, I was fortunate to do so while I was in Vienna after the war. He had come there to do some research for the movie The Third Man. You’ve seen it? Quite an amazing depiction of the mood in postwar Eastern Europe. All that desolation, the intrigue and corruption, and a good murder mystery to boot.”
         “Was that picture taken at the amusement park with the Ferris wheel?” asked Katie.
         “Ah, you’ve got a good eye. Do you know Vienna?”
         “No, I’ve never had the chance to visit.”
         “Gorgeous city. Even after the war. It really wasn’t much damaged by the Allies. Now it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
         “So that was the Ferris wheel,” Katie continued, “the one in the film where Greene’s hero meets Harry Lime?”
         “The very same. In fact, I took Greene out there. I thought it might make a good location for his movie.”
         David looked at Katie and stifled his surprise, then said, “That’s pretty amazing, Mr. Toth. I can imagine that you had something to do with the plot line of the final script, with Lime involved in selling bad penicillin. Was that really going on in Vienna?”
         “Oh, indeed it was,” said Toth, whose demeanor had taken on a more sober aspect. “It was a terrible thing going on through the black market. Poor children. I had tried to help stamp it out while I was there, and I believe I told Greene about it. I didn’t know he’d use it in his script.”
         Katie and David had to be very careful with their inquiries from that point on. If Toth were Neame, he might already suspect the Americans knew about him and his activities in Vienna. If not, Toth might be very helpful locating Harold Neame, whose career seemed to so closely mirror his own.
         Katie glanced at David, took a little breath and asked, “Mr. Toth, when you were in Vienna, did you ever run into a man named Harold Neame? He supposedly was wanted by the military authorities for selling fake penicillin but was never apprehended.”
         Toth drew himself up on the sofa and said, “I was under the impression this was to be an interview about my current business dealings, not about what happened in Vienna fifty years ago.”
         “Well,” said Katie, “it’s just that I was intrigued by the photo of you with Graham Greene and your telling us you knew and advised him on the script.”
         “And what does this Harold Neame have to do with me?”
         David gave a very slight nod to Katie, who paused, then asked, “Mr. Toth, is it possible that you are Harold Neame?”
         Toth shook his head, put down his whisky and said, “I was wondering when you’d ask me that. I don’t know how or why you’ve made such a connection, but I expected the question was coming. You see, Miss Cavuto, Mr. Greco, I did a little research on the two of you. I read what your editor sent but dug a little deeper and found the two of you have been involved in the hunt for some, shall we say, nefarious people, including the Mafia, the Russians and the Chinese. I understand, Miss Cavuto, you won some kind of journalistic prize for your investigative stories?”
         Katie nodded but didn’t feel the need to boast about what Toth already knew.
         “And Mr. Greco here has always been there to save you from yourself, isn’t that true, Mr. Greco? Well, let’s see just how good you are in that role.”
         Toth turned to his two assistants and said something that made one of them draw a gun from inside his coat. The other moved towards the two Americans holding two sets of handcuffs.
         “What the hell d’you think you’re doing?” shouted David.
         “I am tying you both up. I’m afraid you crossed a line of inquiry I find quite unacceptable. You didn’t ask too many questions. You just asked the wrong ones.”
         Katie struggled when the man attempted to put the cuffs on her but David knew it was useless and just allowed it to happen, hoping he could figure a way of getting rid of them, throwing the guards off balance and getting hold of the gun. Then the other man drew a gun and David knew there was nothing he could possibly do.
         “You got too close to the truth,” said Toth. “Of course, you don’t know all of it, or even two sides of the story, but I’m not about to explain it all to you.”
         “So, then, you are Harold Neame, and you were selling bad penicillin in Vienna after the war?” asked Katie.
         “You know, I’ve always thought it preposterous when at the end of a bad melodrama the villain has the hero at his mercy and brags in detail about his crimes. Spills the beans, so to speak. And then somehow the hero escapes and tells everyone everything. I have no desire to do so with you two. I’ll only say that, yes, I was once a British citizen named Harold Neame and then I wasn’t anymore. I would, however, be interested in what put you on my trail after so many years. I assume you spoke with MI6, though I can’t imagine what they had on me after 1955 or so.”


John Mariani, 2016



By John Mariani

The Vineyards at Neingeschraenkte

         It is one of those curiosities of the wine business that as German wine consumption in Germany has declined, sales of Austrian wines in Germany have increased, along with expansion in the U.S., the third biggest export market, with a 11.2% increase in value in post-Covid 2022. Overall, sales reached €231 million.
         In an interview with Meininger’s International, Chris Yorke, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, said the key has been to go after the premium wine market. “I think stylistically, people are moving away from wanting big, bold, throw-everything-at-it styles of wine, and Austria very much fulfills that,” Yorke told the industry publication. “It's what consumers are looking for now: fruit-driven, yet still complex and interesting soils, [and an] amazing ability to age. That’s a real insider secret from Austria. You can buy a €10 wine and that wine will keep going for 10 years.”
         It is certainly true that modern Austrian wines differ from the rather bland varietals that mimicked German styles, including the prestigious sweet categories of beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings. Now young vintners, who have eschewed the old Fraktur lettering in favor of bold, modern label design, are making white wines with more fruit and a good balance of acid, while the reds, especially blaufränkischers of Styria, have a  characteristic spiciness, moderate body and reasonable alcohol levels. Reds and rosés now account for about half the wines produced in Austria.
        Austria also developed what are called “orange natural raw wines,” focusing on biodynamic virtues at wineries like Sepp Muster, Werlitsch and Tscheppe. Organic farming is very regulated in Austria—no artificial fertilizers (especially nitrogen), no herbicides, no synthetic and systemic fungicides are allowed in the field; no fertilizer is allowed, only local compost.
       Austria‘s wine-growing area comprises 44,537 hectares in the states of  Niederösterreich (the largest), 
Burgenland and Steiermark, defined as “generic wine-growing regions,” along with seven “specific wine-growing regions,” including Wien and Bergland with five wine-growing regions: Kärnten, Oberösterreich, Salzburg, Tirol and Vorarlberg. Between Vienna in the east and the Wachau in the west,  two principal  varietals dominate, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, which benefit from the heat and coolness of the terroir, resulting in high levels of ripeness during a long growing season, although global warming has had an impact on shortening it.
Austria has, until now, been best known for those two varietals, but southeast of Vienna, the climate is warmer, with wines from Carnuntum, the Thermenregion and Burgenland possessed of fuller body and are in the forefront of red wine production now, especially the varietal Zweigelt, which is a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent (a variety of Pinot) created in 1922 by Professor Fritz Zweigelt. Blaufrankisch itself is an 18th century cross breed of Sbulzin and Weiser Heunisch, planted widely by the Habsburg royal family.
         I recently spent a week in Austria drinking its wines with every lunch and dinner (with an occasional lapse to enjoy a locally made beer), and while I was delighted with the improvements in Grüner Veltliner in particular, I was impressed by bottlings by Der Pollerhof (2022), produced in the tiny village of Roschitz and dating back to 1920; on the Czech border; the renowned Domäne Wachau Smaragd Kellerberg  (2018) and even one from 2012 by Loibner Süssenberg  Rainer Wess from Kremstal. In the past Grüner Veltliners have often tasted flabby and flat, lacking acid, but that is no longer the case among the finer winemakers.
      Owing to the kind of food I was eating—Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz, Bratwurst—I tended towards reds, including splendid Blaufrankisch wines from producers like Schnabel (2019) from South Styria, whose family makes artisanal wines with little interference in the natural process of fermentation; Iby Chevalier (2019) from Mittelburgenland, dating back to 1884, and a young Gager Ried Fablan Weingut  Gager from Österreich(2022). Most have an alcohol level of  about 14% and, if you can find them in the U.S. most sell for $25 or less.
         The novelty of producing wine and experimenting is in the so-called “field blends,” once common, for which many different grape varieties grow in the same vineyard. One remarkable example is Buchertberg Herrenhof Lampriecht, made in Vulkanland, with 12.6% alcohol, from more than 100 varietals from one hill, including Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling and Furmint, in what is called “free-style wine growing.”
         There are, of course, still some outstanding sweet wines made in Austria, not least an exceptionally fine Beerenauslese from Erwin Tinhof in Burgenland. Long-lived—there are still bottles of the 2001 and 2002 vintages in the market—it has a golden salmon color. He makes two, both botrytized, one from Neuberger grapes, the other from Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).




"A resident of 1950s Britain would find their brain collapsing if they were to stumble upon Cosmo. I was born in 1995 and my brain seems to be collapsing too. Noodles sulk next to hash browns. By the spring rolls, onion rings. Macaroni cheese and mashed potatoes seem to have adopted each other’s taste by sheer proximity. Adjacent to the carvery roast dinner, the sushi makes me feel like I’m taking my life into my hands. It tastes like being waterboarded by the Atlantic Ocean. We think of fusion food as something high end, but this is fusion food too. Everything here, from the chicken tikka to the pizza slice, is so far from home, so distinctly British in its adapted form."—Charlotte Ivers, London Times (10/23). 


 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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