Sep 2, 2019

Ten (and a half) years of blogging

It's come to my attention recently that I missed the 10 year anniversary of this blog. So much for the resolution to keep it updated with original content and being strict about sticking to a publishing schedule after a 2-year slump!


On January 24, 2009 I published my first post. It's been a decade of huge change and I feel I owe much of that life overhaul to this blog, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.

Why I began a blog about Italian food and lifestyle


I started this blog because I felt I owed it to my son. He was going to grow up in a single-parent family with an Italian mom, the least I could do was keep a record of all the great dishes my nonna and my mother made for me (both women raised their daughters as single moms).
After starting, and becoming obsessively consistent with my blog writing, I soon understood that the recipes were a bonus, what readers were most interested in were the personal stories, the intimate reflections, the journal entries.
I was mildly intimidated by the technology and, as I expanded my professional engagements, worried about the time sink. But I felt the urge to write, it was––in a moment of deep professional change––the best therapy I could ask for.


My first post was how a bowl of Minestrone saved my psyche after a demanding rainy Sunday. For the first two years, I blogged twice to three times a week and had a blast. I wrote mostly posts that revolved around the sensorial or emotional allure a certain dish or food gave me, these posts almost always ended with a recipe. Later I slowed down to one blog post per week, then I started linking to blog posts and articles published on other platforms, like The American and Casa Mia. Now I'm down to two posts per month. If any.


From that very first entry, to the present, I have written 470 posts. Some were hugely popular, others nobody read. Some I changed the title to (but still kept the crazy URL), and some I've removed altogether. Overall, the engagement––that initially skyrocketed over the course of only a few months, and that has somewhat endured despite my hiccupping entries––has been mind blowing.


The posts my readers loved the most on Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino were:


If you look at the posts listed above, what's interesting, is how over time page views grew, compared to the number of comments, which intead slowly dwindled. In the past readers not only commented but many wrote long answers that resembled letters, or posts themselves. That's not counting spam comments, often in other languages, and linking to some form of product or service...
This was all happening before there were so many different social media outlets like Facebook where the comments turned into a virtual room where people opened conversations and sometimes actual debates.


Blogging's Changed

Life, new job opportunities, a growing child and a million other reasons account for why I slowed down my blogging, and thus engagement. But I feel I should also take into account the fact that blogging, in itself, has changed.

Now with Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, it's our job to engage and grow our audience on all platforms, which personally is a big challenge. Podcasts and videos have also replaced the longform written word.


Many bloggers have assistants(often virtual) to help with posting, photography and video, content development, answering emails, newsletter compiling and other chores. But for most food and lifestyle bloggers, it's still a single person hobby.

As for me, my ten (and a half) year-old blog about the Italian food and lifestyle continues to be a place where I love to engage with my readers. Thank you for joining me over the years! I'm grateful you're still here, even though I've not been consistent.

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is still my favorite way to communicate with you.

If you feel the same, please leave a comment letting me know what topics you'd like me to write about; what recipes you'd like to see here; and how you feel about blogging and blog-reading ten years after first landing on this site. I'd love to hear from you. Grazie!

Aug 22, 2019

9 delicious chilled dishes for beating the heat

The sun is high on the zenith, days last longer, there's sand in the car. Besides sporting ridiculous amounts of linen and hitting the rooftops for aperitivo, Italians respond to high summer with an array of refreshing cold dishes that bring lots of flavor to the table.

In addition to an endless search for the best scoop of gelato and the perfect slice of watermelon, the Italian summer menu includes creative pasta and rice salads, chilled soups and cold meat dishes, plus a fine assortment of cold vegetarian options featuring ripe summer produce. Here are a few of my cool summer favorites:

Continue Reading "So totally cool" as appeared in the American Magazine in Italia.

May 23, 2019

20 regions, 20 cheeses


President and statesman Charles de Gaulle wondered how it could ever be possible to govern a country––his France––with more cheeses than calendar days. The mystery of Italy's proverbial governance difficulty is thus solved: it must be the cheese's fault. Counting IGT, DOP, PAT and other EU quality appellations, we're looking at approximately 520 varieties of recognized Italian cheeses alone, to which hundreds more should be included if we consider all the so-called "fantasy" cheeses, i.e. those subject to the cheese maker's free interpretation, milk type, technique and aging. Experts maintain that this grand total is close to 4,670.

If schedule and wallet hamper a journey to Italy to taste local food specialties in their various regional birthplaces, you can always travel across the 20 Italian regions on the symbolic cheese pilgrimage route logged below. Note however, that given the vastness of the Italian cheese scene, per-region product inclusion is vastly incomplete. 

Ready to travel through Italy via its representative northern, central and southern cheeses, region by region?
Continue Reading → Italian Cheese: 20 reasons to love cheese in every region as appeared on the Dievole Blog


I also contributed another article on Italian food misconceptions for Dievole, go check it out!

Apr 5, 2019

Polarizing foods

controversial comestibles: cilantro

Everyone has their own food aversions, but there are some foods it seems people either love or hate.

There are certain universally loved foods that everyone can agree are delicious. Think pizza and gelato, for instance. Certain others, however, are a bit more polarizing: for example, when it comes to ingredients like gorgonzola or anchovies, some people either love them or detest them.

Food elicits passion, both negative and positive. The foods that most strike aversions are the pungent, stinky, bitter, slimy, or excessively fermented. This love/hate antagonism can divide households and spoil budding relationships.

For coherence's sake I have expressed my own personal disinclination or enthusiasm for the universally polarizing foods listed below.

Continue Reading → Controversial comestibles as appeared on The American Magazine in Italia

Mar 21, 2019

The flavors of Sicily in Rome

To welcome spring, my partners and I are kicking off a series of Sicilian food and wine events hosted in Rome. If you love Sicilian flavors, and you'll be in Rome April 2-3, you should seriously consider attending!

Sicily in Rome events April 2-3
The April 2-3 events were made possible thanks to partnerships with Casa Mia Tours, Chef Linda Sarris, aka The Cheeky Chef, and Sicilian food and wine sponsors. I can't wait to introduce them to you!
Check out the program of events:

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | Sun, Sea & Soil Aperitivo

Join us for a Sicilian aperitivo at ProLoco Trastevere on Tuesday April 2, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.
Three of the most important ingredients in Sicilian cooking are sun, sea, and soil. Chef Linda Sarris from Palermo will cook up delicious Sicilian appetizers such as freshly made panelle (organic stone-milled chickpea fritters with lemon and fresh mint); fried anchovies and wild field greens; tomasini di russello (savory dough made from ancient grains filled with ricotta, sausage, and wild fennel seeds); Sicilian bruschetta topped with pesto trapanese, caper paté and sun-dried tomatoes. There will also be a tagliere featuring Sicilian cured meats and cheeses, like salame Nero Ibleo, and prized Ragusano cheese. Sicilian wine pairings and Sicilian amaro will be served. Signature cocktails will be available for purchase.
SICILIAN APERITIVO April 2, 2019 ProLoco Trastevere – Via Goffredo Mameli 23 – 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available for purchase on Eventbrite ~ €25 per person, includes 2 glasses of wine, amaro and appetizer buffet.
Sicily in Rome events April 2-3Sicily in Rome events April 2-3
Sicily in Rome events April 2-3

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 | Sicilian cooking lesson at Casa Mia

Join a Sicilian cooking lesson in Rome on April 3rd, 2019. Aprons on at 6 p.m.

Thanks to the many cultures who have called this island their home, Sicily's layered food history is filled with ingredients and cooking techniques that you don't see in other parts of Italy.

In the kitchen, Chef Linda Sarris will teach guests about the importance of seasonal cooking with high-quality products and share her own simple recipes that you can recreate at home.

Following the lesson, guests will enjoy a dinner together, sipping Sicilian wines.

The four-course menu with wine pairings will feature an antipasto of organic stone-milled chickpea fritters with lemon and parsley; a first course of organic busiate pasta made from semola di grano duro, cauliflower, passolina raisins, toasted breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Our main course will be calamari stuffed with artichokes, capers and mint. No meal is complete without dolce, and no Sicilian meal is complete without hand-made cannoli with ricotta cream and candied orange peel.
Dishes will be paired with natural Sicilian wines, also poured throughout the cooking class.

SICILIAN COOKING LESSON Via Fabio Massimo 107 – Aprons on at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are available for purchase on Eventbrite ~ €75 per person.

Sicily in Rome events April 2-3Sicily in Rome events April 2-3Sicily in Rome events April 2-3
Our event sponsors are:
Porta del Vento (sicilian wine from Camporeale)
www.portadelvento.it | @porta_del_vento_winery

Paesano Authentic (pomegranate amaro, artichoke amaro)
www.paesanoauthentic.com | @paesano.authentic

Azienda Agricola Biologica Di Giovanna (organic extra virgin olive oil)
www.di-giovanna.com | @digiovannawine

Molini del Ponte (chickpea & russello flour, busiate pasta)
www.molinidelponte.com | @molini_del_ponte_drago
Our event partners are:
ProLoco Trastevere
Etnella

I hope to see you there!

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