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.

« I Ripieni Fritti-Fried Stuffed Dumplings | Main | "Amarcord" From the Tuesday Pomodori »

Irene's Final Thoughts

I grew up around African Americans, Polish immigrants and Middle Eastern immigrants from various countries. I had met a few Italian Americans but they did not center their conversations around their culture or its food as so many have done here in Saint Louis and other cities I have visited.

For me, the allure of Italian food was a myth. Italian cuisine was Lasagna, Minestrone Soup, Pizza and Marinara Sauce. Needless to say my exposure to Italian cuisine was limited. It would take years before I learned all Italian food was not red. Thank goodness for television and a certain red haired Italian chef.

When discussions about this project began, I was not very interested. I do not consider myself a foodie. Second, my experience with Italian food left much to be desired. Third, I enjoy cooking occasionally. I would not say it is one of my favorite activities. Honestly, I was thinking what is the big deal? My friend, Deborah, has a very persuasive nature. She immediately highlighted why this should and would be a big deal. The group experience changed my mind. I also realized it might be a fun way to move past the Italian food stereotypes. I signed up for Mondays which at the time was my least busy day of the week.

So, what have I learned?
• A cookbook with tested recipes and well written instructions does not need color photos.
• Italian dairy products are superior.
• Simple does not mean tasteless.
• Italian grown imported San Marzano tomatoes are fruits of the Gods.
• Tuna packed in Olive Oil is not oily and gross.
• Quality food ingredients are hard to find in my country and especially in the Midwest region. What should be the agricultural standard is offered to us at a premium. Thank goodness for food and wine imports.
• I’m a better cook than I thought.

I have enjoyed many of the recipes I have made. Several have made it into special categories. I look forward to exploring the rest of this cookbook.

Recipes I’m most proud of completing
Peas, Peppers and Prosciutto Sauce with Cream tossed with handmade Garganelli
Pan-Roasted Whole Boned Chicken with Beef and Parmesan Stuffing
Fried Calf’s Brains

Recipe I want to eat most often
Mushroom, Ham, and Cream Sauce with yellow and green fettuccine

Recipe I’m most proud of eating
Frittata with Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes

Favorite photo
Bolognese Meat Sauce

Recipe I was surprised to enjoy
Stuffed Whole Stuffed Squid Braised with Tomatoes and White Wine

Recipes so good I dream about them
Panzanella – Bread Salad
The Chimney Sweep’s Gelato
Pizza with Margherita Topping

Recipes my husband enjoyed the most
Tomatoes Stuffed with Tuna
Poached Tuna and Spinach Roll
Vitello Tonnato- Cold Sliced Veal with Tuna Sauce
Chicken Fricassee with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine and Tomatoes
Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms, Riviera Style
Sweet Pastry Fritters
This is very interesting because he says he does not like tuna or mushrooms. This food challenge has expanded his palate even if he will not admit it.

Special thanks to:

Thank you to all of the Pomodori e Vino followers.

Mindy - For being the first person I did not know to post a comment. I was nervous thinking no one would show interest. That post helped me breathe a sigh of relief. Your bravo’s, rah rah’s and continued support have been greatly appreciated.

Susie L. – For being my most frequent commenter. I’m glad you took the time to show your support. Thank you.

Kim – Thank you for all the technical support. This blog would not exist without you.

Viviano’s Market – Thanks for procuring some of the ingredients I have used. My veal posts would not have been possible without you.

Beth, Deborah, Doug, Cindy, Sandi, Jan, Jerry and Palma – I really appreciate the encouragement you have provided, the safe place to vent, and laughs. Your combined culinary knowledge and travel experience is very impressive. I am very fortunate to have met each of you. I wish you many successes in the future.


Thank you for the privilege to interpret your art using my humble skills. You have forever changed how I view Italian cuisine. I noticed The Classic Italian Cook Book was originally published in 1973. I was born December of the same year. How serendipitous to make your recipes many years later with you and Victor as chaperones.

Many times through out this cooking challenge I have felt this cookbook was written just for me. The level of detail you have given on regions of Italy, food ingredients and the precision of your instructions have made cooking a very enjoyable experience. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a culinary institute or trip abroad, I have upgraded my culinary skills from the comfort of my own kitchen. Often times with fine restaurant quality results.

Seeing our endeavor as an event worthy of your time has been a tremendous honor. Your personal stories, assistance, constructive criticism and kind words have enriched this project tremendously. The last 63 weeks have been a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. I send a big hug to both of you.

Warmest Regards and Deepest Gratitude,

Comments (7)

So nicely written. I think a lot of us share your sentiments.

Irene - this was a perfect post. I loved it! And like Cindy said, you've expressed so much of what the rest of us are feeling.
Thanks for allowing yourself to be talked into taking the journey.

Irene~ you have written these words for all of us. We have all been touched, and changed forever by the smells and flavors in the last year and a half.
Our friend Deborah, has a very persuasive nature indeed!

Mindy Smith:

Irene, ok, really, I'm crying after reading your poignant, heartfelt message just now! I am humbled that you mentioned me in your post. It has been an honor to read and learn from all of you!! I sincerely admire each and every one of you!!

It has been a pleasure to post....I did as often as I could....I am a huge fan of all ya'll!! Bless your hearts.

Rah!Rah! Brava e bravo!!!!

Baci e abbracci!!

Ray Anne:

To all of the Pomodori -

I am neither food-obsessed nor a proficient cook, however, the time I have spent reading and imagining with this blog has been one of the genuine pleasures of my year. Thank you.

Ray Anne

Irene, I am a little teary reading your post, but also chuckling at the same time. I love that you are proud of eating that frittata, knowing you have an aversion to eggs. I think your most impressive post was the fried calf's brain, I could really sense your excitement and enthusiasm. I also loved your garganelli post, complete with the tool you used!

I thank all of the Pomodori and Marcella for giving me so much pleasure. I literally woke up each morning, grabbed my iPad off of my nightstand and eagerly read the newest Pomodori adventure.

Thank you!


Irene, molto grazie! I have followed you and your cohorts during the many last weeks--often wishing I were a part of this grand venture. Now, having read your admissions, I am even more impressed with you. Thanks for the ride.

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