About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Cindy's Final Thoughts | Main | Saturday's Final Thoughts from Palma »

Friday's final thoughts~

In March of 2010, at the encouragment of Deborah, several friends from several countries decided to embark on an adventure. We decided to cook our way through Marcella Hazan's 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'. Everyday a new recipe, everyday a new adventure. We posted on Facebook and on our blog Pomodori e Vino. The rules were very simple . . . If it was your turn you made it. It didn't matter if it was tripe, cotechino, or prune gelato. We would work our way through pasta and variety meats.
In this adventure, I was very smart to pair up with a partner. Jan and I took on Fridays; then we split the recipes. I think Jan and I will agree we were lucky with the recipe draw! We spent the next 15 months cooking Italian.
The recipes were only a part of the challenge. In 15 months . . . I have worked 2 jobs, traveled to London and Italy twice, had breast surgery, buried my father and my father-in-law, planned a beautiful wedding and watched my daughter get married, and waved my son off to cook in the wilds of Michigan. L-I-F-E in a nutshell. Though it all, we have faithfully followed Marcella's recipes and posted our attempts.
The other Huge part of the challenge was finding the ingredients. I live in Alabama, where Italian is chef-boy-r-dee with a southern accent. It is near impossible to find young artichokes, whole chestnuts, or fresh ricotta cheese. My weekly trips to Piggly Wiggly were more interesting because of this challenge; I carried Marcella with me every time.
I feel that I feel like I can call her Marcella, because through this process she and Victor have been in my kitchen every week. They have followed along our journey, and commented on our progress. She has been kind and generous... and very absolute in her recipes. I cherish each comment she has made along the process. I was rightfully chastised for implying Tuscany was Italy, using chicken breasts once again, the thickness of my veal. . . but, more than once she refered to me as her talented southern cook.

Sandi, who could have imagined an Alabama belle making such deft tortelloni! You've proven that if one really loves pasta one doesn't have to settle for second-rate store bought stuff. It has to do with whether eating well is worth making an effort or not. And that, I understand, is what Southern cooks know something about.

I have not one, but two favorite memories, through out this process. The first, of course would be when Jan and I were in Venice at the same time. We were able to find Victor's favorite little shop at the Rialto market. With Jan's excellent Italian, we purchased the ingredients we needed for our recipe. We made our Botarga together in Jan's little apartment overlooking a canal... we drank a toast to the Hazan's and our fearless Pomodori. This is a moment that we will both cherish for the rest of our lives.
My second memory is my son and I in the kitchen together, making Gnocchi. Flour and potatoes everywhere, laughter, with a little wine and some gorgonzola~ We experimented together until 'allora'... we had the perfect gnocchi. I am a firm believer that making memories in the kitchen are treasures you can't replace.
More than once, Marcella commented that she wished we were neighbors. I would love nothing more than to share my polenta, and a glass of wine as I stir the risotto and listen to her stories. She has left with each of us the treasure of 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'. It is up to us to share these treasures with others.

Jan, Marcella, and Victor~ Thank you for the journey!
Ciao y'all~

Comments (4)


O Sandi, You really did a wonderful job with "our" final post.
I loved being your partner as much as I loved being a "pomodori".

Perfect wrap-up post Sandi. So heartwarming to see you with your son in chef coats. Reminds one of Marcella and her son, doesn't it? And the picture of Jan is great.

Special kudos to you for posting (after 62 weeks), the one and only photo of Jerry! Ha!

Ray Anne:

Your tribute to the Essentials journey is touching and accurate. Thank you for reminding me that each day is "L-I-F-E in a nutshell".
Good food, friends and memories make it better. Be well.


Nice pictures. Good food, friends and memories...what could be better?

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