Dream of Italy. When I came up with this name nearly 19 years ago, little did I know just how well it would age. In this pandemic, we are in the age of dreams, of what from the past will come next and what will be new. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it is that Italy is the answer . . . and I share the reasons why in this issue’s opening essay.
I wish I could give you all a big hug during this Covid Winter. Obviously, I can’t because we’re not in person and because of social distancing, but I think of the polenta recipe in this issue as a warm embrace during difficult times. It is a comfort food, though one with a fascinating and mixed history, as Letizia Mattiaci explains. Letizia, the owner of a wonderful agriturismo in Assisi, Alla Madonna della Piatto, is also a cookbook author. Her latest is the heavily researched and simply gorgeous Festa Italiana: Recipes Inspired by the Festivals and Traditions of Rural Italy, available from Amazon. Polenta isn’t as easy to make as one might think, and Letizia leads us through the nuances of making it. Perhaps an activity for a cold winter’s day?
Valerie Fortney, another fantastic friend in Italy, also has a new book out, 52 Things to See and Do in Basilicata. Valerie is an American expat who now lives in the birthplace of her ancestors, Trivigno in Basilicata. She has personally been an incredible resource to me on this region in the instep of Italy. Though I have visited a handful of times, I turned to Valerie when we were filming our Basilicata episode to fill me in on authentic and little-known experiences, and her book includes so much of her insider knowledge.
I always welcome your feedback, questions and comments, so feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org