Virtual Gourmet

 April 7, 2024                                                                                              NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 




Part One

By John A. Curtas


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani



Text and Photos By John A. Curtas

Hotel El Palace



      It took me thirty years to get to Barcelona, a city I've been enchanted by (from a distance) ever since seeing the 1994 Whit Stillman movie of the same name. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but something always derailed me. Lack of funds, lack of time, divorce, terrorist attacks, Great Recessions and Covid shutdowns all conspired to thwart my plans. But late last year, there we were, on an AVE high-speed train from Madrid to Catalonia, arriving just in time to check into our palatial digs at Hotel El Palace and freshen up before taking the Barcelona restaurant scene by storm.
      The hotel was everything its name suggests: expansive, old and grandiose, with an eye-popping lobby and solicitous staff. It is a bit off the beaten track (a half-mile or so from La Rambla), but in a nice neighborhood full of the sights and sounds of the city, with a couple of hipster coffee bars on the block and good shopping just minutes away. With this kind of overture provided by the hotel, Barcelona's opening act would have to be a showstopper. Unfortunately, our on-premises dinner at the Michelin-starred Amar (left), for all of its performative appeal, was not.
      Amar checks a lot of boxes: the room is as comfortable and modern as its hotel is classic. Service was exemplary and there was no faulting the provenance of the seafood. What it seemed to lack was a sense of place or warmth, or anything evoking the city it claims to represent. As bracing as our oysters were and as flawless the fish, it was a meal that could've been served in a thousand restaurants around the world. Indeed, I've eaten such a meal, a thousand times. The only things that change are the accents of the waiters.
      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Michelin stars are more reliable in Europe than anywhere else but still need to be taken with a bit of brine. A Michelin one-star in a European capital will have a certain standard of accoutrements and service, and often a menu no more predictable than a Waffle House.
      Carpaccio to crudo, caviar service, innovative oysters (of course); a little crab here and some free-range poultry there—a progression of courses straight up the food chain so similar they might as well be AI-generated. This is not to say the food wasn't top-shelf, but we didn't travel 5,500 miles to feast on the familiar.
     To be fair, certain dishes did command respect. Peas with cod tripe (left) and Catalan black pudding was rich beyond belief, but suffered from being adorned with truffles that brought nothing to the party; white beans with tuna and pancetta tasted like a gutsy peasant dish with a higher education; and the red prawns were so fresh they could have leapt straight from the boat onto our plates.
      Those were the highlights, but when the formula progressed into high-toned gastronomia it wasn't for the better. Our classic sole meunière was draped with the weirdest, ivory-white beurre blanc we've ever seen; spider crab cannelloni proved, once again, that pasta should be left to the Italians; and the most impressive thing about the cheese course was the expandable trolley it came in.
      Perhaps it was the jet lag, but we wanted to be blown away by our first bites and weren't. Things got better when they turned less formal the next day. The better parts of two mornings were spent at La Boqueria public market, with its sensory assaults tempting us at every step and testing our resolve not to spoil lunch by chowing down on everything in sight. Be forewarned: in the age of Instagram, half of the hoi polloi is there not for the food but rather to photograph themselves filling their little buckets of narcissism. It becomes a madhouse after noon, so get there at 8 a.m., so you can cruise around and chow down on your own, personalized Spanish food crawl for a few hours before the selfie crowd shows up.
      On day one, we stuffed ourselves silly with jamon. By day three, we strapped on the blinders and made a beeline to El Quim before dozens of other vendors could seduce us with their wares. Think of a hectic lunch counter located in the middle of one of the world's most famous urban markets and you'll get the sense of Quim's cacophony. Only in this case, they're serving patas bravas and croquetas instead of flapjacks and hash browns. Quim has been called the best Catalan tapas in Barcelona by no less an expert than Gerry Dawes, author of the definitive
Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain.
      What seems intimidating at first—you hang around the counter waiting for a seat to open up—becomes less so as soon as you catch one of the waiter’s eyes and are directed to a stool, then handed a one-page menu that will fight for your attention with all of the prepared foods and signboard specials tempting you. We settled on a pork loin sandwich with asparagus, crunchy-soft deep-fried artichokes, eggs with foie gras, and patas bravas for breakfast, forgoing other egg and potato dishes that looked heavenly but would have filled us up for the day. Each bite packed a wallop—succulent pork on incredible bread, seared duck liver atop eggs (a belt-and-suspenders approach to richness that will ruin you for bacon and eggs forever), while the fluffy-crisp potatoes were lashed with two competing mayos—one, creamy white, the other possessing serious pepper kick.

      Quim is the sort of place you need to go to with a group and order a dozen things. Two people and four items don't make a dent in its delectations. But it is the first place I would recommend to any first time visitor and the one locale I wish we could've returned to instead of cruising through the Gothic Quarter  to our next venue.
      Dinner at Can Culleretes (left), supposedly the second oldest restaurant in Spain, was punctuated by a surly teenage waitress and a hostess with all the charm of a hemorrhoid. But the historic rooms (since 1786) were a sight to see and the tariff soft, especially wine, with bottles costing what a glass does in Las Vegas. This held true in both Barcelona and Madrid, in restaurants both humble and hi-falutin'. Our dinner for four (with enough food for six) came to 252 euros, including two bottles of wine.
      The food, though, a decent mixed seafood grill and lots of stewed proteins, was one b-flat taste sensation after the next. The charms of Culleretes's famed brandade-stuffed cannelloni also escaped us, with  every leaden bite confirming that under-seasoning must be a rule in Catalan kitchens. We also left wondering if cured fish, olives, and eggs are the three-chord rock of Catalonia, and whether there is some kind of law against not serving anchovies in Spain.



                                                                        33 West 36th Street


                                                                    By John Mariani

                                                                                     Pão de Queijo


         Until recently, the dominant style of Brazilian restaurants in New York has been that of the national chain Fogo de Chão steakhouses, with scores of branches from here to Dubai. They’re a lot of fun, with churrasco meats carved tableside and an enormous condiments and salad bar to choose from. But that festive style barely hints at what Brazilian cuisine is all about, and, fortunately, the Brazilian community in New York supports those restaurants that remind them of home, not least across Thirty-Sixth Street, where they abound.

         The finest example I know of is Berimbau Brazilian Kitchen, which opened small in 2009 in the West Village and has now expanded measurably to midtown with a larger Caipirinha Bar. Owner Mario de Matos is on a mission to spread the gospel of regional Brazilian cuisine as prepared by chef Victor Vasconcellos with a cookery that derives from European, Amerindian, African and Asian influences that have been spread throughout Brazil’s vast geography, from Amazonia, Minas Gerais, Rio and Bahia.
         The design, of course, evokes Brazil’s rain forests with natural wood and greenery, and the floor mimics Rio de Janeiro’s famous boardwalk with its wavy colored pattern. The artwork is similar to the tropical ambience of Brazil’s open-air museum Instituto Ihotim, while the ceiling is spread with fishing ropes. There is also a private dining room, and later this year there will be a bossa nova jazz club. The Brazilian music in the dining room is played so it is never intrusive.
         Begin with one of those Caipirinha cocktails, like the Rabo de Galo, made with aged cachaça, Cynar, sweet vermouth and orange bitters. The wine list, curiously, lacks any Brazilian bottlings, this, at a time when the country’s wine industry is soaring, but they do stock many good wines from Argentina and Chile to be enjoyed with this food.  Otherwise there is the bestselling Brazilian beer called Brahma Chop.
         No one does cheese bread better than the Brazilians, who use parmesan and farmer’s cheese to incorporate into tapioca flour to produce a puff ball called pão de queijo with a crispy outside and a hot, chewy, oozy inside ($10), with which you get a trio of condiments. Brazilian empanadas are oblong puff pastries filled with various ingredients ($13), and dadinho are little pop-in-the-mouth cubes of tapioca, coalho cheese and sweet and sour peppers ($14). Coxinha  are a wonderful variation on fried chicken, the pieces filled with soft Catupiri cheese on a spoon ($11). There is also a plate of passarinho fried chicken wings with sweet and sour pepper sauce ($18).
         Tomato and coconut milk enrich and suffuse velvety mussels with Bell peppers and a broth dashed with red palm oil called dendé ($19), and a national seafood dish called moqueca teems with bountiful morsels of the day’s fish, shrimp, calamari and that same peppery broth ($36). I loved the addition of pomegranate and sumac salad to a fried whole branzino ($38). Polvo is octopus, served with smoked eggplant, white beans, tangerine, sweet chili pepper and purslane ($21).
         The national dish of Brazil is feijoada, dark as coffee, chockful of parts of smoked pig with bitter collard greens and black beans in the stew, accompanied by white rice and bacon-flecked farofa made from toasted cassava flour ($34) that easily serves two or more.  
         Of course, there’s beef, which Brazilians consume the way Italians do pasta on an everyday basis. The picanha cut, similar to a bottom loin, is brought to a table and sliced by the chef into rosy slabs, served with an abundance of mixed greens, chili crunch broccolini, rice, beans , French fries and farofa with cheeses ($69 for two, but three or four can enjoy this hefty main dish).

There’s a very rich dulce de leche caramel flan called pudim ($12) and a lovely passion fruit mousse de marcujá ($10).
         You could easily make a meal of the appetizers alone, but not to try the feijoada and moqueca and miss the superior beef is to miss a great education in Brazil’s wide-ranging food culture, where people say, “
Não reclame de barriga cheia”—never complain on a full belly.
         Incidentally, located off the main hallway is a pop-up retail space showcasing Latino and Brazilian brands, as well as a marvelous jeweler in gold and silver named BARBOSA owned by Brazilian-born Jackie Barbosa.

Berimbau Kitchen is open nightly.




By  John Mariani



      “The story has to be about the Magdalene Laundries,” said Katie on the red-eye flight back to New York. “Even if there’ve been some stories in Irish or Canadian papers, the story’s still fresh, and that stuff about the unmarked graves is astonishing. That alone should be enough to titillate Dobell.”
         “I’ll trust your instincts on that, Katie, “ said David, “but looks like you have some preliminary research to do before you tell Alan.”
         “Oh, yeah, and I know just where to start.”
         “Let me guess: Your old professor at Fordham.”
         David was referring to Katie’s history professor at her alma mater, Karl Mundt, who had been invaluable with her research on her prior investigative articles. A distinguished professor of Modern European History, Mundt had over many decades established a broad worldwide network of scholars and authorities in myriad fields of study, so if he could not shed light on Irish Catholic history and the Magdalene Laundries, he would know who could.
         Katie called Mundt, who was always happy to hear from one of his prize students—he’d always hoped Katie would get her PhD and become a professor.  After learning the reason for her wanting to see him, Mundt said he had little expertise in Irish Catholicism but knew exactly whom to call on to join them, then said she could come over the following morning if she liked, around ten-thirty.
         It was a beautiful, warm morning, and the Fordham campus revived in Katie the affection she had for her college years and how close she and Joseph Evangelista were in those days, when he committed to joining the priesthood as a Jesuit, she not quite knowing if she’d go to graduate school in History or Journalism.
     Katie loved the slightly musty smell of the classrooms and offices where Mundt spent so much of his long career. David, who had been along the last three times Katie had visited, still felt as an outsider but appreciated how Mundt had shown him such deference as a NYPD cop, especially when David’s questions led to insights even the professor had not seen.
         Mundt looked little different than when Katie had seen him a year before, as always dressed in a buttoned three-piece suit and bow tie, his hair slicked back, his abundant eyebrows providing gravitas when needed and levity when called for.
         “Katie, Katie, Katie!” exclaimed the professor. “I get older, you get younger.”
         Katie said, “Perhaps your eyesight is not what it once was,” then thought that might have been taken the wrong way.
 Mundt warmly welcomed David, told them to sit down and offered something to drink, then asked for more information on why Katie had come to ask his assistance.
         “I really know nothing about these Magdalene Laundries,” he said in a faint German accent, “but I know how intimately the Irish Church was connected to the Irish government.  It was a symbiotic union that gave them strength in the face of British domination well into the twentieth century. The British knew they could control the Irish politicians but they had little sway over the clergy, even after the famine of the 1840s starved millions of Irish to death. The lucky ones, of course, emigrated to America, and just about everything on this campus is named after Irish bishops or prominent Irish-American entrepreneurs.”
         Indeed, the Fordham campus buildings were flush with Irish names—Murphy, Keating, Mulcahy, Walsh, O’Hare, Larkin, Finley. In fact, one of the only campus structures with a non-Irish honorees was the Lombardi Memorial Center, named after the beloved Italian-America football coach Vince Lombardi.  One complex was named Martyrs Court, after three 17th century French Jesuit martyrs tortured to death by the Mohawk tribe.
         Mundt said that he had asked another history professor, Father Raymond Porter, a Jesuit, to join them. “He’s our resident Irish history scholar, and I told him you wanted to discuss the Magdalene Laundries.” At that moment a robust, corpulent figure in his fifties entered the office, dressed in a tweed jacket and chino pants, without a clerical collar.
         Introductions were made and Katie said, “You may not remember me, Father—” but was cut off by Porter, who had a slight Irish brogue, saying, “Oh, Katie, I remember you very well. You were in at least two of my courses, and Karl speaks of you often and how proud he is of your success. All of Fordham is, really.”
         Katie blushed, David smiled broadly and said, “You can include me, too.”
         “So,” Porter went on, “Karl tells me you’re interested in knowing more about the Magdalene asylums? Terrible, terrible part of Irish Catholic history. They started out well enough, as rescue missions for prostitutes, orphans and women with nowhere to live, but they later devolved into sweatshop laundries that offered little access to the outside world and no way for the women to get out. The last one shut down just a few years ago.”
         “When did they actually begin?” asked David, taking notes.
         “The first of the nuns’ convents was opened in Caen in 1641 and was called the Refuge of Our Lady of Charity. By the time of the French Revolution there were seven communities in France—not a good time to be a nun—so they spread out around the world, including in Ireland. As recently as 1960 about 1,500 sisters served in forty-four communities in ten countries. Various orders of nuns operated them, for profit, by the way, under the auspices of the government and Church that funded them. The principal order, especially in Dublin, was the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, who came to the city during the great famine, about 1853, I believe."
         “I know,” said Porter, “their name would suggest they would have acted in the most benevolent spirit of Jesus and Mary, and they may well have at the beginning. You have to understand that without such institutions there simply was no support system for destitute women tossed out on the streets, from alcoholic families, many of them raped and pregnant.  The asylums were protective organizations at a time when women had no rights whatsoever under the law, and any woman tainted by sexuality was considered a criminal. The asylums were alternatives to prisons and workhouses.”
         While listening, David was reminded that he’d spent his career going after Mafia mobsters whose antecedents in Sicily had once been the only protection the impoverished populace had against foreign occupiers like the Spanish and French.  Back then the people in power were the ones who would be murdered by the Mafia, which the foreigners feared mightily. Only when Sicilians began emigrating to the United States in the 1880s did the Mafia flourish in a new land of unbridled opportunity. Sadly, the Mafia’s intimidation of their own people soon replaced the domination once employed by foreign powers back in Sicily a century before. David also knew that one of the Mafia’s major profit-making industries was prostitution.  In America, however, a young Italian woman could avoid such a fate by joining a convent, where they would be protected by the Church.  

John Mariani, 2018




By John Mariani



         Even though it is by far America’s most popular white wine, among some wine snoots Chardonnay will never get a nod. In large part because of the flood of mediocre, over-oaked, acid-poor California bottlings in the 1990s, there arose an unofficial group called the “Anything But Chardonnay Club” because the wine seemed to be inundating American dinner tables.
         To be sure, there were a lot of dreadful Chards brimming over both small and large wineries at a time when the American preference was for Chards that tasted by burnt oak slathered in caramel. The problem is that Chardonnay, unlike Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, does not have a distinctive flavor all of its own and is therefore easily manipulated to taste like whatever is the prevailing style. For that reason sunny California vintners made unbalanced, taffy-like wines with unconscionable alcohol levels.
         Fortunately, although such wines are still out there in abundance, many California and Pacific Northwest estates now aim for more balance and nuance, emphasizing the fruit, not the oak, and making fresher wines with more acid. Here is Part One of a good number of these well-made and delicious Chardonnays.  


J. LOHR ARROYO VISTA and OCTOBER NIGHT (both $25). As in Burgundy, primary and secondary malolactic fermentation is done in French oak barrels, with the lees being stirred each week during aging to impart a heartier flavor. Both wines spend 10-14 months in oak. The winery in Paso Robles is still family owned (after 50 years), and  winemaker Kristen Barnhisl aims for aroma and citrus flavors that keep the wine fresh, while allowing the slow malolactic to bring buttery texture. Monterey County is cooled by the winds and the rocky soil is well adapted to Chardonnay. J. Lohr makes an array of Chardonnays, some now just coming into the market, including its very popular Estates Riverside 2022 ($14), which has been “the backbone of Monterey’s style” since 1972. (I applaud the screw caps.)


DUTCHER CROSSING 2021 ($46). Now seventeen years old, Dutcher Crossing, now owned by Debra Mathy in Sonoma County, beginning with five wines and now making 30 there and in Napa and Mendocino, including five Chardonnays ranging in price from $45 to $50. Vineyard manager Enrique Reyes and winemaker Nick Briggs hand-pick all the grapes, and in 2021, a dry season, the fruit was exceptional, giving a mineral ballast to the creaminess and fruit flavors.  


RICHARD DINNER 2021 ($68).  The night-harvested grapes come from Steiner Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain above the Bennett Valley, with Pacific winds blowing through the Petaluma Gap, so there’s a lot of climatic protection for the vines. Ron Noble uses an old Wente clone that exudes rich aromas of tangy fruit, with a lovely vanilla streak that lingers on the palate. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered to give more of a boost and concentration.


SMALL VINES 2021 ($40). Paul and Kathryn Sloan were partners in rock climbing and mountain biking internationally, but finally settled down in Sonoma County, where Paul’s family has been for four generations. Wines are all dry farmed as well as grown organically, and despite admiral low alcohol they have a fine intensity and the acids keep everything in tandem.


WENTE MORNING FOG 2022 ($18). A terrific price for a delicious Chardonnay, 50% barrel fermented on the lees in neutral American oak barrels, 50% in stainless steel tanks. Bâtonnage was performed monthly. Stainless steel portion was half aged on lees for months while the other half was racked clean to preserve the fresh fruit characters. Very nicely balanced and a wine that goes with just about anything but red meat. (It is notable that several wines on this list use Wente clones.)


CHATEAU ST. JEAN 2021 ($30). Inching up to 14.3% alcohol, this is a big-bodied Chard from Livermore Valley with tropical fruit dominating but tempered with citrus. It is aged only in oak, which gives it a touch of wood that is just enough so as not to compromise freshness. The estate has been family owned for more than 140 years, now with three fourth-generation proprietors and five fifth-generation, so they take their heritage seriously by producing consistent wines of finesse and vitality.


FLOWERS SONOMA COAST 2022 ($55). I’ve been a Flowers fan forever, originally impressed by the caramel notes and oak, but I and the wines have mellowed. The 2022 yielded small clusters after a less-than-average rainfall in winter, a mild summer and then, starting on Labor Day, 100-degree temperatures for a full week. Fortunately, most grapes were picked before the heat wave struck, and so, although not as big in body as some Flowers vintages, it had a good 13.5% alcohol and good minerality.


CUVAISON KITE TAIL 2021 ($70). Cuvaison has been making impressive wines since 1969 in Los Carneros, Napa, and this one from the low-yield Tai Vineyard is at the top of their line, with a voluptuous fruit structure and waves of citric acid to brighten it. You’ll taste the flinty soil of a kind that will remind you of Burgundian Chards like Auxey-Duresses. It is pricey but you’ll want to sip it slowly.


FRANK FAMILY 2022 ($40). This is another wine from Carneros, which seems to have the best terroir for Chardonnay outside of the Cote de Nuits. Although its 14.4% alcohol is high, this is a wine for any and all seafood, but with steamed or broiled lobster with clarified butter, there’s none better.


TALLEY 2022 ESTATE ($38). If you like the caramel aspect of Chardonnay without being in any way cloying, Talley is your wine, this from the Arroyo Grande Valley. Brian and Rosemary Talley, along with winemaker Eric Johnson, are award winners for good reason, and Talley is, to my mind, quite expressive of the new balance of California when it comes to Chardonnay.


ALMA ROSA EL JABALI 2021 ($33). Located in the southern sector of the Sta. Rita Hills, with clay-rich soils, whose weather was ideal in 2021. The El Jabali vineyards date to 1983, when planted by Richard Sanford, so maturity, as well as experience, is on its side. I like the minerals, but also the sea salt in this fine example from a fine vintage.



Separè 1968 (left), a restaurant and wine bar in Marina di Cecina on the Tuscan coast, is now offering a discount providing guest leave their mobile phones at the door.  “It’s working really well,“ says owner Niccolò D’Andrea.



 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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