[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 – 68] The Forward and Reverse Culture Shock of Relocating and Going Back

Thoughts on the Table is back after a very long absence with an autobiographical episode. Following my relocation to England, I’ve now been living in my new home for five months, settling in and getting used to the local culture and habits. In this episode, my friend and recurring guest Nick Zingale takes the lead as we discuss the so-called culture shock experienced when relocating to a different country, as well as the “reverse” culture shock of going back to one’s native land.

How do we cope with culture shock? When do we start adopting new habits? If we go back, do the acquired habits stick? Do we see our native land differently? Join us as we try to answer these and more questions while trying to break down the differences between Canada, England, and Italy.

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


Related posts:

[Thoughts on the Table – 63] Italian and Italian-American Christmas Traditions, with Nick Zingale

Hello and Happy Holidays!

My friend and recurring guest Nick Zingale is back on the show with his great storytelling to talk about Christmas and the way he and his Italian-American family celebrated it over the years: from the anticipation leading up to Christmas Eve, to the Feast of the Seven Fishes, to the many family gatherings. In the episode, I also share my Christmas memories from growing up in northern Italy, with a special emphasis on the food.

This post’s featured image was derived from “Christmas Tree Fruit” by Sergé, licensed under Creative Commons.


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 – 58] A Morning in San Giovanni in Galdo, with Nick Zingale

Join me and Nick Zingale for another of his fascinating stories as he continues to recount his visit to Molise, his maternal ancestors’ homeland.

As depicted in Nick’s original blog post, during his day-trip to San Giovanni in Galdo he goes through a series of encounters that make him closer to his roots and that he will remember forever.

In the episode, Nick mentions the characteristic regional pasta called cavatelli (please check it out on Manu’s Menu!) This pasta shape also happens to be most commonly found in Cleveland’s Little Italy, as further evidence of the strong influx of Molisan immigrants in the area.

As always, the music in the episode is by www.purple-planet.com.


[Thoughts on the Table – 57] Nick Zingale and his Emotional Trip to Molise

Nick Zingale is back on the podcast to share another chapter of his past Italian trip which led him to discover his southern Italian roots.

In this episode, Nick takes us through an emotional journey to Molise, the small Italian region where his maternal ancestors lived. Particularly, he talks about the paese of Matrice and its strong connections to his hometown Cleveland, where many of Matrice’s citizens emigrated over the years.

Matrice, Italy
The town of Matrice in the region Molise. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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


[Thoughts on the Table – 55] Discovering Cinque Terre, Lake Orta, and Como with Nick Zingale

As promised, Nick Zingale is back with his great storytelling and distinctive charm to talk about his journey throughout the Italian peninsula, which took place about a year ago. With the ultimate goal of reaching his ancestors’ towns in southern Italy, Nick explored several destinations along the way, and some out of the way. In this episode, he shares entertaining tales from short trips to the beautiful Cinque Terre, Lake Orta, and Como.

As a visual reference, the Cinque Terre National Park includes the municipalities of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, as well as portions of the territories of Levanto and La Spezia, to which the frazione of Biassa belongs.

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre

About Lake Orta (Lago d’Orta, in Italian), Nick mentions the little island of San Giulio as well as the town of Orta San Giulio and its Sacro Monte.

About Como, Nick talks about the funicular, the Star Wars filming location: Villa del Balbianello, and describes his unexpected performance at a local Karaoke bar 🙂 (this post’s featured image!)

Did you know these locations? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?

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


[Thoughts on the Table – 54] True or False? 15 Stereotypes on Italy, with Nick Zingale

Is it true that Italians drink espresso all the time? Live with their parents until they’re 30 years old? And that they all know how to dress up? In this entertaining episode, Nick and I will try to debunk these and many more stereotypes on Italy and on the Italians. But will we succeed?

As usual, your feedback is appreciated! Please share your thoughts in comments or by contacting me.

This episode uses sounds from freesoundRinging bell by domrodrig, and Buzzer by Timbre.


[Thoughts on the Table – 52] Italian and American Culture with Nick Zingale

Nick Zingale is an American of Italian descent who lived and traveled in Italy and Europe for seven months last year. He joins me in this episode for a fascinating overview of his experience abroad, which he documented on his personal blog – from working as an English teaching assistant, to his discovery of his ancestors’ native towns in Sicily and Molise, to his solo travel around the Italian peninsula. Throughout the episode, Nick shares plenty of insights on Italy and the Italians from his special point of view of someone who grew up in an Italian-American family.

During the episode, Nick mentions a documentary on the massive immigration of Italians in the United States and on how difficult it was for them to amalgamate with the American culture. You can get more information on this production at http://www.pbs.org/show/italian-americans.

Nick’s travel blog can be found at http://www.nickzingale.com/nickztravels.