[Episode 100] The Meta of Food – All About Food Besides Eating It!

Jason is back on the podcast for one last, final episode! Yes, Thoughts on the Table ends today as it hits its 100th episode with the biggest topic we could think of: the meta of food, i.e. anything that has to do with food besides the physical sensations of actually eating it. Join us in our journey through this fascinating subject as we touch on the concept of authenticity and on how culture influences our appreciation of flavor.

Conversely, in the second part of the episode, Jason and I discuss some cooking trends that affect the flavor of food. These include the tendency to finish cooking pasta in its sauce and to alter traditional recipes to make them visually pleasing for sharing on social media, more so than with our guests!

Special Thanks

I’d like to thank all of you who have been listening and the 65 amazing guests that I had the pleasure of interviewing and collaborating with. I’d like to make a special mention to those who have bought into the project and really helped drive it, starting with Jason, and including Gino De Blasio, Manu, Frank Fariello, Diana Zahuranec, Raffaella De Amici, Rick Zullo, David Scott Allen, Nick Zingale, Mark Preston, Simon Pagotto, Melinda King, Tina Prestia, Sim Salis, Eva, Diana Pinto – who also contributed to this last episode with her precious research and insight.

Episode References



  • Marcella Cucina, by Marcella Hazan, William Morrow Cookbooks, 1997
  • Millericette, by Erina Gavotti, A.Vallardi, 1995
  • Mangiare e Bere all’Italiana, by Luigi Carnacina and Luigi Veronelli, Garzanti, 1962
  • Recipes and Memories, by Sophia Loren, GT Publishing Corporation, 2000
  • Le Quattro Stagioni in Cucina, by Lisa Biondi, AMZ Editrice, 1981

[Thoughts on the Table – 99] Taste and Flavor Flashbacks with Jason and Paolo

As Thoughts on the Table approaches 100 episodes, I chose to dedicate episode 99 to the series’ beginnings, dating back to August 2013. I was an avid podcast listener and, inspired by great productions like This American Life and Stuff You Should Know, I involved my friend and then-coworker, Jason, and branched off from my blog to try the more colloquial format of a podcast.

Today’s issue contains extracts from the first six episodes where Jason and I discuss taste and flavor, as well as cultural differences between Italy, North America, and Japan. Among other topics, we touched on why as an Italian I would never try to put salt on pasta, whether eating spicy food can damage our taste buds, the reason why desserts tend to end the meal, why many people learn to appreciate “spoiled” foods like Gorgonzola and Nattō, what exactly astringency is, and the path to appreciating subtle flavors. To wrap up the selection, I couldn’t help but include extracts from episode seven, a recording that took place right in the center of Milan on Jason’s impressions from visiting Italy for the first time.

After these seven episodes, Jason could no longer continue as a co-host. So I started looking for a new podcast partner by enlisting some of my dearest blogger friends as collaborators. This eventually gave me the idea to turn the podcast towards the format of the interview. I enjoyed it a lot. With practice, I learned to connect with my guests in a way that would capture their spontaneity in entertaining and informative chats, and I made many lasting connections as a result, for which I’m grateful. My guests included food bloggers, writers, cookbook authors, chefs, food professionals, food photographers, event organizers, cooking instructors, and fellow podcasters. Overall, in nearly nine years of activity, Thoughts on the Table saw a total of 65 collaborators for a combined playback time of 39 hours, 19 minutes, and 13 seconds.


Seven Years of Blogging, Four of Podcasting

Hi! Here I am celebrating seven years of blogging and looking back at the past 12 months, as I do at this time every summer. Thank you for reading this post. Your choice to dedicate a bit of your precious time to me and to my work is humbling and makes me proud to be a blogger!

So, what happened in the last 12 months? The podcast Thoughts on the Table continued to be my main focus and has become a great passion. I enjoy every aspect of it, from the planning stages, through the ever-exciting moment of the recording, to the post-production and its magic. But among everything, I especially love the fact that the podcast allows me to work together with amazing people around the world and meet them face-to-face on Skype. In the last 12 months, I published 12 episodes with new and returning guests, including food writer Mark Preston, food bloggers Linda (Signorina Spaghetti) and Ale Gambini (A Queen in the Kitchen), restaurateur Simon Pagotto, as well as travel blogger and storyteller Nick Zingale, who has quickly become a recurring guest. This year, the podcast also hit an important milestone, its 50th episode! For the occasion, I was joined by my buddy Jason (with whom I started this series four years ago) for a special episode dedicated to balance in food.

Celebrating seven years of blogging with my new friends at The Happy Herd Sanctuary in Aldergrove, British Columbia
Celebrating 7 years of blogging with my new friends at The Happy Herd Sanctuary in Aldergrove, BC.

The series has since hit 59 episodes, and still counting! I have already started working on new outlines with future guests and I look forward to organizing many more. If you’d like to be on the show, I’d love to work with you on themes that you find meaningful — please contact me for more information. BTW, the podcast is now available on Google Podcasts and on Stitcher, besides of course iTunes, and direct playback on the Internet Archive and on this blog.

In other news, this past year I have posted three new recipes: Buckwheat Gnocchi with Mascarpone Tomato Sauce, Mascarpone Cream as the perfect accompaniment to Panettone, and Piadina Romagnola, the iconic flatbread of the Adriatic region of Italy.

Mascarpone Tomato Gnocchi Mascarpone Cream on Panettone Piadina Romagnola

I also wrote an autobiographical article on my first impressions as I arrived in Vancouver, Canada, 16 years ago, to discover a whole new culinary world: An Italian in Canada – From the Food of Italy to “Italian Food.”

“ I had discovered a parallel universe! A pretty unappetizing one […] the portions were too big, the pasta was either drowning in sauce or looked pale and overcooked, and the sauces looked overly rich.”

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who follow me on the various social networks. Thanks for joining the discussion and for helping me preserve authentic, continental Italian food and its main qualities of simplicity, balance, and flavor. If you don’t already, please follow me on Instagram (where I also share my recommendations for good food in Vancouver or in Italy, and occasional pictures of my gorgeous cat); Facebook (where I sometimes take a provocative stance against the horrible Italian food aberrations I come across); Twitter (where I occasionally also share random thoughts of some wit); and of course on the blog itself, Disgraces on the Menu.

As always, your feedback is really important to me — if you have any corrections, suggestions, or ideas for future collaborations, please contact me! Thanks again.

[Thoughts on the Table – 50] Balance in Food – 50th Episode Special with Jason

Jason and I used to be co-workers and in our lunch breaks we often talked about food, trying to explain the logic behind it, and comparing North American, Italian, and Japanese cultures. Being an avid podcast listener, and missing the days when I was an amateur radio host in Italy, I pitched to Jason the crazy idea of making a podcast from our chats. Of course he accepted without hesitation! As a result, Thoughts on the Table was born just over three years ago.

Even though Jason is no longer a co-host, the podcast continues to thrive, thanks to its notable guests and loyal listeners – including Jason himself, of course. In fact, I’m very happy to be publishing episode number fifty (that’s five-zero!) today.

In this special episode, Jason is back on the show with one of his topics. With our usual investigative approach, Jason and I theorize on why North Americans seem to focus on high ranking foods (the so-called “proteins”), relegating the rest of the dish to mere accompaniments, whereas the Italians – and the Japanese – value dishes in which the various components are paired harmoniously, and they have meals in which the dishes follow one another in a balanced progression.

As always, please join us in our discussion and let us know what you think by commenting on the episode. Thanks to everyone for your support and feedback!

The music in the episode is by: www.purple-planet.com.


[Thoughts on the Table – 32] Jason’s special on San Francisco, technology and food culture

If you have been listening to this podcast from the beginning, I’m sure you will remember my friend Jason, my original podcast partner. I visited him recently in his new home in San Francisco, and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to record a special episode on technology and food culture in his city. Join me to hear Jason’s insightful overview of various websites and apps that are changing the culture around food and that are thriving in the San Francisco Bay Area, the core of technology and entrepreneurship.

Warning: Just like in my other special with Jason, this episode also starts with me being *very excited*. Again, please bear with me as I gradually calm down 🙂

Music: www.purple-planet.com.


Four Years of Blogging, One of Podcasting

Another interesting year for Disgraces on the Menu – the year that has seen the beginning of the podcast Thoughts on the Table, along with several collaborations. I have always been fascinated with radio shows. When I was in my 20s, I hosted a radio host on a small Italian station. I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to do anything remotely similar in English, until I discovered podcasts. But the real trigger to record one came when my wife got me a microphone as a birthday present, and a buddy of mine, Jason, agreed to produce one with me.

Initially, the podcast’s concept was a direct extension of my blog’s philosophy: investigate what’s behind food and flavor, especially in relation to the difference between what is known as “Italian food” and the true cuisine of Italy. This is what fueled the first 6 episodes.

After the first mini-series on flavor, just as I was starting to become comfortable with the format, my podcast partner, Jason, had to leave the project. This is when I started thinking about involving other food bloggers through remote conferencing. At the same time, my friend Gino DeBlasio (based in the UK) volunteered as my first guest – it was meant to happen!

After a mini-series with Gino on misconceptions about Italian food, I worked with Jessica Burgio on episodes about lesser known Italian dishes and cooking Italian in North America. Then, I was joined by Manuela Zangara, who talked about her first e-book and shared her experience as a full-time food blogger.

The podcast then started taking the format of the interview. I had several special guests: Frank Fariello, Fiona, Christina Conte and Simona Carini. I also had the opportunity to interview my friends – neuroscientist Davide Anchisi and restaurateur Andrea Bini. On my latest trip to Italy, I also had the chance to record a chat with my grandmother on the food in Italy during War World Two, which then became a unique and especially meaningful episode. More recently, I have spoken with Lucia Hannau, the organizer of a food conference which will take place in Turin this September – and of which I am going to be part of – and with Elisa Cerruti, a fellow attendee.

On the blog, this year I posted 6 recipes: Stewed Brussels Sprouts, Radicchio Risotto with Parmesan Rind, Poppy Seed Potato Bignès, Shrimp, Zucchini and Saffron Linguine, Roasted Green Beans, and Truffles Uncovered, which was also a feature article.

Looking into year five, I hope to continue with more podcast episodes, featuring new and returning guests, as well as have the time to go back to writing more articles and recipes, which is still a great passion of mine. But today, I would just like to stop for a second to thank everyone who has been following my work – thank you for your attention, it’s an honor for me!

[Thoughts on the Table – 7] On Location in Milan!

Don’t miss this special edition of Thoughts on the Table recorded “on location” in Italy! Check out Jason’s first impressions on his first time in the country, as he told me when we met in busy Piazza Duomo, in the heart of Milan. A note of warning: I was very excited about this recording – please bear with me as I gradually calm down 🙂


[Thoughts on the Table – 5] Flavor Appreciation

Jason and Paolo are back for a new episode. This week, it’s about the rewarding path to appreciating subtle flavors. Also, as a bonus, Jason presents his theory as to why North Americans don’t like liver anymore.


[Thoughts on the Table – 4] Acquired Taste

Join Jason and Paolo for this week’s interesting and entertaining episode exploring why certain flavors are acquired tastes. Why do we enjoy “spoiled” products like Gorgonzola and Nattō? Why do we put cream and sugar in coffee? Why some people can’t stand root beer, cilantro, dill pickles, or even sushi?