It all began with the decision of the Foodies Reading Group at a Barnes & Noble store in the St. Louis area to read Marcella Hazan's autobiography, "Amarcord".
One of the group, Deborah, thought it would be a lovely surprise if Marcella would be willing to sign new copies of the book for everyone in the group. She wrote a note to Marcella. To her great delight, received a phone call from Marcella saying she would be pleased to accommodate. Deborah intended to keep this news a secret, but she isn't good at keeping secrets. As you would expect, everyone was thrilled.
Fast forward a few days to Facebook conversations about how many of us learned to cook Italian food the "right" way from "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". A comment was made that the one cuisine most of North America loves and cooks is Italian. And the person most responsible for teaching us the right way to cook Italian wasn't, in our opinion, being accorded the appropriate recognition today.
Not taking away from the well deserved admiration for Julia Child, but come on ... If you took a poll of North American home cooks, what do you think the results would be? Fussy French food or honest Italian food?
We rest our case.
Somewhere along the way, someone makes an offhanded and ill-advised suggestion that we do a Julie Powell thing and cook our way through Essentials.
One thing leads to another; cooler heads prevail; and the decision is made to share the cooking responsibilities by splitting up the week among seven people. That meant that the three in the St. Louis area, (Deborah, Irene, & Beth), would still need some reinforcements.
Deborah, who is a member of the SlowTrav community, and has participated in a weekly food challenge with other Foodies in that community for several years, put the call out. And they responded.
First it was Cindy, from Alaska. She jumped right in, without hesitation. Doug, from Eastern Ontario also didn't hesitate to accept the call. Sandi from Alabama wanted to join the group, but was not sure she could commit to every week, so Jan from Florida partnered with her to alternate weeks. Once the separated-at-birth-twins Jerry from Ontario, and Palma from California learned they could share a day they threw their mutual hat in the ring as well.
Sixty-two weeks of posting every single day is daunting. So, as a safety measure, we strong-armed Kim , from New Jersey, into agreeing to be our pinch-hitter.
Our group was complete.
Next we needed to lay the ground rules. Not many, we aren't good at following rules - or recipes.
So the first rule needed to be:
FOLLOW the recipe - faithfully. No tinkering without Marcella's written permission.
We would take the recipes as they came in the book. No trading. Too bad that Cindy doesn't like chicken livers and Deborah has an aversion to Squid.
Since seasonal & fresh is the bedrock for all good Italian cooking, it's OK to cook ahead and save your documentation for the appropriate posting date.
That was it for the rules. Now the process.
Originally we were going to document this entire thing only on Facebook. We didn't think we needed a blog. This is all about reminding all of our foodie friends what a treasure we still have among us in Marcella Hazan. We weren't looking for a book or movie deal. We just wanted to keep it casual and allow our individual styles to dictate how we wrote our respective daily reports. So we set up a collective identity: Pomodori e Vino.
For several weeks now we've been chatting on this Facebook page and adding friends. We were so honored when Marcella, herself, decided to 'friend' us and keep an eye on our progress.
It soon became apparent to us that one glaring limitation to Facebook needed to be addressed. There is no compatibility to schedule future posts. So, we decided to create this blog.
We'll schedule our posts here and program them to appear automatically on Facebook every day. Our friends will be able to make comments directly to Facebook, or leave them on the blog if they prefer.
And, it begins -- soon.