Farewell, Life Love Food

I realise this post is long overdue. It’s been sitting in my drafts for months now, and I somehow managed to find many a good reason not to finish and publish it, until now. I knew it would scare me a little, that’s why. It is, after all, about closing a huge chapter of my life, and I just couldn’t find the right words to say what needs to be said. Not that I feel like I’m finding them much more easily now, but it’s time, so I’ll try.

You might have noticed I haven’t written anything new here for over a year. I don’t like to leave things hanging or unattained, nor do I like to feel as if nothing has changed in the past few years. They have. Intentions, ideas, ideals have certainly shifted. I am not the person I was eight years ago. But, with them, what’s changed is the way people interact, communicate and share – online and otherwise. We must listen, we must adapt. Being pliable so as not to brake…

I started this blog in 2010. I was 22 and fresh out of University. I needed a place where I could pour my creative energy in a form that my degree wouldn’t allow. I studied translation but was enamoured with food. Food blogs were very popular back then, in a time when blogs were widely read and there was no Instagram to steal the scene. I followed a few myself (some of them are still going strong, some don’t even exist anymore), read them eagerly, held them as examples of something I could strive to achieve. I had no professional training in cooking or styling, but I had a lot of drive, so I taught myself.

Some of the blogs I read had no photos in them – only beautiful, engaging prose. But many of them did, and it soon became clear that, if I ever wanted to gain some readers and, more importantly, if I ever wanted them to cook my food, I had to learn how to take good pictures of it. So I went on and bought a DSLR with my few savings (I was still a student). I enrolled in a Photography 101 course and I got shooting. The course turned out to be pretty useful, as did some books about the basics of food photography I bought after that.  Needless to say, my first attempts at photographing food were poor. But at the time they looked fine to me. I wonder at which point I started suffering from impostor’s syndrome. Possibly since the day the whole blogging thing went from being a pleasurable pastime to being a professional playfield.

In the past 8 years, the blog witnessed quite a few changes. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that, though not intentionally, I made it the mirror of my life as I grew and changed. In its first stage, it was an Italian recipe blog that sat on a free blogspot domain. About one year later, it became bilingual – I wrote posts in English and included the Italian translation at the bottom. And then, eventually, it became solely in English, and I used it to document my life and my cooking exploits while living in the US, in London, in Sydney. The blog, as it turns out, became my only safe and steady space in a world that was constantly spinning.

I don’t hold many regrets, but I realise that I could have done a few things differently. For one, I had no long-term vision for the blog, no real focus, no editorial plan. I wish I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be an Italian-inspired, seasonal recipe journal with personal stories sewn into the otherwise food-centred narrative. But this only became clear in recent times, its true nature unfolding before my eyes as I was going. Truth is, it started as an outlet for my musings, and it remained as such for the largest part of its life.

Finding my niche was both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, I had a clearer idea of what shouldn’t be shared; it became easier to keep on topic. On the other, it stifled my voice, and sedated my sponateus bursts of inspiration. I began to post more sparingly. I deleted a good number of old posts that didn’t fit within the theme. And then, when blogs were left behind and people flocked on instagram for recipes and photos and general inspiration, I stopped writing here altogether.

We learn from our mistakes, and I think I did. And alhough it’s clear to me that everyting only makes sense looking back, I now try to ask myself a few questions before I take a step in any given direction.

Now, after a lot of pondering, I’m finally ready to take that step: close the blog and focus on new endeavours. This, believe me, wasn’t an easy decision to make. It feels terrifying and very definitive, but also pretty inevitable, like a well-placed question from an inquisitive journalist that already knows the answer. For a while now I’ve been feeling like I have outgrown this space, as if it were a ill-fitted piece of clothing one size too small.

If given the chance, I would have avoided doing this for a little longer, ignored the issue and pretended it didn’t exist. I’m a procrastinator at heart. But external “powers” forced me to stop putting it off…and on reflection, it was a good thing. Quite simply, the hosting  for this site is expiring in mid February. I had to decide whether to renew it and invest more resources in it or close it. I decided it was too broken to fix, and chose to invest these resources elsewhere.

Some of you might know it already, but I realise I’ve never made it explicit here before. Less than a year ago, I have opened a new site under my name. It had a slow start. I launched it rather quietly while I was still putting the finishing touches on the design. For the first few months, my biggest goal was to not mess it up. I am still finding my feet in the new space and with all the room for self expression that it allows, but I am committed to make it bigger and better and fill it with new stories and photos in the months to come.

(Some of the most popular and valuable content will be reformatted and updated and transferred to the new space: the food guides, for one, but also some of the recipes. But most of it will be archived – thanked deeply, in perfect KonMari style, for the joys it sparked, but archived nonetheless. So, if there’s a particular recipe that you wish to save for future use, make sure to do so before mid-February.)

 

What will you find on the new site? Well, hopefully, you’ll find inspiration. Inspiration on a broad range of subjects, from lifestyle to travel to culture. Food, too, of course. But it won’t be the sole matter of conversation moving forward. I want to bring my whole self to the table and talk about all that sparks some light in my everyday – be that a piece of pottery or a good book, a trip to some Italian village or a glass of wine. I want, most of all, to stay curious. Because if I’m bored, you’ll be bored. So, expect to find aspirational pieces as well as real-life experiences. Travel guides or personal impressions on a place I visited. Edits on homemaking (my nomadic lifestyle has taught me a thing or two about how to feel at home in all sorts of situations), features on favourite things and people, seasonal recipes and food reportages, and more. It’s a start.

As well as on the site, I will be carrying on the conversation through a regular newsletter, where I’ll share personal notes, musings and resources on the creating process; sources of inspiration; as well as recipe round-ups, new stories, event announcements and the like. If this sounds of interest, you can sign-up here. You should receive the first email within minutes.

Thank you. Thank you for showing up and being here and for reading this long post. I will be forever thankful to all of you for your loyal following and for supporting me in this journey. I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far. And I also hope that you’ll want to continue following along on the other side. That’s where you’ll find me. I hope to find you there, too.

Here’s to new beginnings!

Veneto in the USA + A Recipe for Pumpkin Rice Soup

Pumpkin Rice Soup

I earnestly thought that this day was never going to come.  And then, just like that, I flipped the page of my planner and there it is, a scribbled note on November 28th reminding me that yes, the day has indeed finally come: US Publication Day. I can hardly believe it. It was a long sailing, I know it was. Those of you who had to wait so long to put your hands on a copy: I can’t thank you enough for your patience. I hope you think it was worth the wait.

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On Book Publishing + A Wild Plum Ricotta Tart

In earnest, I didn’t know what it was going to feel like. Dispatching a book into the world, I mean. I thought, perhaps, that it was going to feel like a piece of you leaving your body and starting a life of its own – as if one day your arm decided to stop responding to your commands and became a thinking entity. And, in part, that’s how it felt. But it also felt like the gnome in the movie Amélie. Have you seen it? If you have, you might remember how, at one point, the gnome starts sending Polaroids from the places he visits. It’s funny, but that’s what the book did to me, too. Not only did it breach into the world, it also began to send me postcards from places like Milan, London, Zürich, Venice, Paris.

This, of course, is all thanks to you. It is you who send me pictures of Veneto in your kitchen, in bookshops, in cafés and any other place in which a book feels at home. It is you who turn it into a living thing – by using it, splattering it, reading it and, hopefully, loving it. So thank you for this, from the depth of my heart. Thank you for buying the book and for filling my heart with warm pride. Thank you also for the many sweet notes, emails, messages. I am beyond humbled and so, so glad you are enjoying reading and cooking from it. Please keep them coming, please keep sharing. It truly means the world.

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Veneto Book Trailer 2 + A Recipe for Folpetti e Patate

folpetti e patate

One of my favourite long essays from the book tells the story of a food stall in Padova.

Parked in one of the central piazzas from mid-afternoon until dark, ready to sort out your pre-dinner snack, La Folperia (this the telling name of the stall)  dishes out plate after plate of folpetti – boiled baby octopus droused in emerald-green salsa verde. This is not all it offers, mind. Max and Barbara, the affable stall ownders, can also sort out some seafood salad if you like. But it’s certain that octopus is the main point of attraction for both regulars and newcomers. Or, at least, I know it was for me.

I paid this stall a number of visits during my University years, always for folpetti, and always with a glass of white wine in hand. On these occasions I had the chance to observe the habits and behaviours, manners and hydiosincrasies, of the patrons gathering around this stall. But also to ask a few casual questions – how it’s the octopus cooked, for how long – and record them for future use. For I had never had octopus so tended before. And, to tell you the truth, I rerely have afterwards.

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Veneto Book Trailer + A Recipe Preview

spaghetti alla busara

I am coming to you today as an old friend you don’t see for a while would: I’m full of things to tell you. The excitement is such that I might speak quickly and jump from one thing to the next without much of a connection. But  I’d rather be overflowing than forgetful. So please stick with me, and we’ll get to the recipe before you know it.

First and foremost, I meant to tell you about Veneto, my cookbook, which will be released this Thursday. I feel like I’ve talked about it for so long now, that I’m struggling to fathom how fast time has passed. One week and those of you who preordered it in Europe will have a copy at their doorstep. I’m excited and terrified. Most of all, though, I just can’t wait for you to see it. It’s time.

Then, the book trailers.

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