[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

Disgraces on the Menu Turned Six – Time to Blow Out the Candles Again!

Another year has elapsed – this blog just turned six!! As usual, I’d like to stop for a moment and look back at the last twelve months of blogging and podcasting. Before I do that, I would like to thank all who have been supporting me by reading, by listening, and especially by sharing their thoughts via personal messages and comments. It means a lot to me, please keep sending your feedback!

Now, back to my “retrospective”, so to speak. Podcasting seems to have become my main focus. This past year, I have published ten episodes featuring amazing new and returning guests: Hannah Solomon, Diana Zahuranec, Rick Zullo, Gino De Blasio, Domenica Marchetti (twice), David Scott Allen, Silvia Arduino, Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen, and Giulia Scarpaleggia, thanks for participating and for putting up with me and my questions! Recently, I also began posting full transcripts of some of my favorite episodes, and narrations of meaningful articles, starting with Il Mercato – the Tradition of the Italian Street Market.

During the year, I posted seven new recipes for as many favorite dishes: some old staples (Valdostana Onion Soup, Squash Risotto, Passato di Verdure, Oven Roasted Vegetables Stripes), and some preparations I recently discovered and fell in love with (Pesto alla Trapanese, Spaetzle-style Passatelli, Chard and Spinach Gnudi).

I also wrote three articles on food and culture; two were published as guest posts: Dried Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta (for Experience Italy Travels) and The Basic Rules of Italian Food (for Once Upon a Time in Italy), which was written after consulting with several Italian food bloggers. The third article, which was published on this blog, deals with Personal Space and the Italians, a topic I have been meaning to discuss for a while. All three posts were great fun to write, I hope you enjoyed them.

I am also happy to have connected with five more bloggers who, like me, talk about the authentic food of continental Italy. Of course, I promptly gave them the Cannolo Award. David from Cocoa and Lavender, Luca Marchiori from Chestnuts and Truffles, Coco from Coco’s Bread & Co – Eating Healthy, Giulia Scarpaleggia from Jul’s Kitchen, and Viola Buitoni from Viola’s Italian Kitchen, congratulations again!

Finally, I’d like to add a note on a technical detail. Last October, this blog was migrated to WordPress! I can’t say it was a trivial task, but the process was much smoother than I initially thought – a testament to the platform and its amazing community. I hope you are enjoying the new layout and functionality.

All in all, year six has been a great year, with lots of new connections and ideas. I am very much looking forward to year seven with the same enthusiasm as when I started in 2010!

Thanks again and… Salute!

[Thoughts on the Table – 38] Decoding Italy and the Italians, with Rick Zullo

I’ve been following Rick Zullo for quite some time, he is an amazing writer who has been capturing and decoding Italy in his blog, books, and podcast. I am very honored to have him as my guest in today’s episode.

Third-generation Italian American, Rick grew up wanting to explore the land where his great-grandparents came from. After several vacations and two 3-month sabbaticals, he settled in Rome where he lived for several years and where he started a blog to chronicle his adventures. His special point of view on Italy and his ability to discuss deep and sometimes controversial themes with charm and a humor made him very successful and earned him several awards, including Italy Magazine’s 2013’s “Best Living In Italy Blog” and 2014’s “Best Overall Blog for Lovers of Italy”. Rick also published 4 popular free guides (including Best Restaurants in Italy and How to Dress like an Italian) and 4 books for Kindle.

In this episode, I asked Rick to share more about his story and the story behind some of his most popular posts. Join us for a fascinating chat on regional differences in Italy, the connection between Catholicism and superstition, how to dress like an Italian. Also in the episode, an entertaining piece on the significance of the bidet!


Year Five: Complete!

I can hardly believe it has been 5 years since I started this project! Time flies when you’re having fun, and flies especially fast when you’re in good company – over this past year, I connected with many people and I like to believe that together we changed how Italian food is perceived around the world! Slightly, of course 🙂

By far, the biggest networking opportunity came from participating in Turin Epicurean Capital, a food literature event that saw me as a moderator. Particularly, I continued to work with fellow participant Diana Zahuranec), who has since become a recurring guest in the podcast and a great contributor to its success.

My visit to Turin also allowed me to reconnect with friend wedding planner Valentina Lombardi, who introduced me to her new project: Experience Italy Travels, a service aimed to show international travelers the true side of Italy. To help reach that goal, Valentina offered me to write: “Italy: Instructions for Use”, a fun section where I try to explain the ins and outs of Italy and of the Italians. Naturally, I accepted enthusiastically!

Recently, I also had the honor of being interviewed by Rick Zullo, awarded blogger and author of popular ebooks, as part of his new podcast: The Fatal Charm of Italy. Our chat was a lot of fun – if you want to hear us talk about the unwritten food rules that Italians follow, and much more, please head over to Rick’s blog.

As this blog completes Year Five, I would like to thank all visitors and followers for their support in the form of feedback. Please continue sending me your comments, observations, and corrections – as a blogger, nothing makes me happier!

I was featured on Rick Zullo’s “The Fatal Charm of Italy” podcast!

A few days ago I had the pleasure to be invited by my friend, writer Rick Zullo to be part of his new podcast: “The Fatal Charm of Italy“. I had a fantastic time! Rick is such an amazing host, and his insatiable curiosity makes for a very insightful conversation. You can listen to the episode online or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, which is definitely what I recommend!

During the episode we touched on:

  • The different perception on what “Italian food” means in North America, vs. continental Italy;
  • The reason why food is such a big deal to the Italians, and why the Italians follow so many food “rules”;
  • The difference in table service between Italian restaurants and North American restaurants.
I hope you’ll have as much fun listening to it than we had recording it!
Rick, thanks so much also for the kind words you used to introduce Disgraces on the Menu to your followers. Grazie di cuore, è un onore!

[Thoughts on the Table – 13] Meet Jessica Burgio

Welcome to a brand new series with guest blogger Jessica Burgio! In this first episode, Jessica introduces herself and gives an overview of North American foods from an Italian perspective. Particularly, Jessica focuses on the foods of Florida, where she lives, including Grits, Conch Fritter, Key Lime Pie, and of course Gators! We also talk about Jessica’s husband: Rick Zullo, the author of Italy Restaurant Guide, as Chosen by Italy’s Top Food Bloggers.