Culinary Concierge
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culinary concierge, blog

ViaMedina is a culinary concierge service providing private chefs, cooking lessons, exclusive events, and interactive food and wine tours.

Posts in Diary
Dum Vivimus Vivamus. While we Live, Let us Live Well.

My mother's birthday is 11 June. This year, 11 June was also the day that our dear friend Nikki got married and where I was given the honour of performing their ceremony. Hell, our cats turned two years old on 11 June. It was a day for celebration. I wanted to say so much to my mother, but I only found the time to give her a short phone call. But her voice on the other end of the line was light, filled with her contentment and the lightness of years that I can only hope are growing lighter on her shoulders. Mom, I thought of you all day, and all night.

 

But when we woke up the next day, we got news that in Orlando, Florida, 49 people had been killed by a man who had stormed a club and held them hostage in one more act of hatred and violence. One more person for whom we will have to find a reason to explain his acts and whose ancestry will in some way become proof positive that what he is, and what he has done is some way an invasion of a foreign presence in what was once a great America. Somehow with a social media feed that was marred in tragedy, I would not bring myself to celebrate my mother's birthday, because I could not risk being told that I was trivializing such sadness by not focusing on it. And I couldn't do that to my mother.

 

You see, as the years go by and my distance grows I feel even deeper inside of me and know that I will always be American, and I learn

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Working the Room, or Why I Love being a Waitress

When I left home at 16, my father had only one piece of advice for me. He told me, “whenever you're in doubt, work at a restaurant; at least you'll always eat.” My first job was at the Sidewalk Cafe on East 6th street in New York and I worked the graveyard shift, from 1am-9am. Now, twenty years down the road I have accumulated an archive of experiences that makes me great company on a long flight or a killer team member in Trivial Pursuit. I have travelled to very nearly all corners of the world and have had the fortune of working on projects that meant something, often everything, to me. I very nearly completed a PhD in Political Science and if you really wanted to hear about my thesis I could tell you in painstaking detail. I have been a part of things and I have gone at things alone, and I have often straddled the precipice between points of no return and yet have managed to come back in one very seemingly not broken piece.

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Kids will be Cooks

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to do some really wonderful events and collaborate with some wonderful people in and around Tuscania. One of our favourite days was spent in July at Arte e Agricoltura, an agriturismo owned by our friends Maurizio Pio Rocchi and Petra de Goede; for more than 20 years they've been using their talents as artists as well as farmers to bring some incredible events to life. This year was the eighth year that they've held a summer camp for children, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to show kids how to make pasta. And indeed, despite intense heat and the lure of a very awesome swimming pool, the kids were passionate. Their orecchiette game was also pretty on point.  

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The Right Fit

It's a pithy word, isn't it? 'Fit'. A small and unconvincing word that should not carry the weight that it does. As words get bigger and more hyperbolic it seems even more unlikely that 'fit' should still be relevant and indeed, decisive. It's frustratingly small and smug and irrefutable.

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Curry Club

I can't lie to you all. I feel like we've become close now, like we tell each other things and like we've created a safe space here together at ViaMedina. Which is why I've decided to let you all in on something very important to me, very dear to my heart.

I love spices!

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5 Practical Tips for New Chefs

When asked to pass on some wisdom to young cooks, 'Celebrity' chefs always seem to say the same things:  "Prepare to miss every birthday, wedding, any social situation that exists because of the demanding hours", "just put your head down and work", "Stay in a place for a minimum of a year". 

These are all very good pieces of advice and more than that, they are very true. But the life of a cook, the real day to day stuff, it's much more mundane than all of that. Knowing that all your friends are going on summer holidays and you're going to maybe have next Monday off won't make you a better cook, and it won't make you a chef.

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Have You Eaten Yet?

Today would have been my grandmother Christine's 90th birthday. Since moving to Italy I get asked quite a lot about my heritage: where I'm from, who my parents and grandparents are and were. It is a shorthand in small towns to know who a person is based on the knowledge one has of their family, and my foreignness here makes that genealogical measuring stick mostly inapplicable to me. However, when I tell people that my grandmother's family came to the United States from Campania in the South and my grandfather's family from Sicily, there is an instant recognition and understanding. My grandparents' heritage makes it logical that I should live here, that I should speak the language, that I should know how gesticulate with my hands and communicate dissatisfaction, jubilation and ennui all at the same time.  At first I found this logic to be shaky, at best; after years of travelling in many different corners I have long since abandoned the notion that I should 'belong', strictly speaking, anywhere. But when I think about the last year and a half and then I think about my first 25 years spent with her, I wonder if perhaps there is something to it all.

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Only a Father Could Understand...

So we tried to post this yesterday but there were a whole bunch of problems, probably all about the Solstice and shifting energy or all other types of stuff that our friend Janet could tell us about. And while we know that it's a bit late, hopefully our fathers won't mind the delay. 

Dads, we love you. 

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A message to you, Matthew

You asked me to impart any advice relating to Ramadan based on my experience fasting for two years during the Holy Month in Algeria. The irony of it does not escape me: I am living in Italy and working on a farm with my husband, a chef, and the celebration of food presents itself in every facet of our lives. We even have a blog that we've begun where all we do is talk about food, and I am now returning to the experience of Ramadan where the absence of food (though only one of many suggested absences) is its most recognizable characteristic. I have helped to butcher and cure and roast pigs since almost the first days I arrived here, and yet I have not eaten pork in more than 10 years; that I have an allergy to pork and all products always made living in Muslim countries a great respite for me and made many people think that perhaps there was some hope for the tattooed American girl after all. Indeed the more that I've considered your question the more unqualified I feel I have become yet the more completely I want to answer your question. Perhaps I should explain.

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