Friday, 30 July 2010

August means summer vacations!

Beach at Pesaro, Italy on the Adriatic.
Today marks the third anniversary of our arrival in Rome. We arrived and little did we realize that we were at the beginning of the long summer holiday in August. Rome was quiet, no traffic, lots of parking and most shops closed until September. As of Monday many shops will be closed, our butcher is gone until September, the drugstore is closed, cafes are closing, in our neighborhood I realize today that all the cafes will be closed including the one who is usually open, because this year it is under renovations. Cash ATM machines will also run out of money and banks are on shorter hours, due to lots of staff being on leave. Grocery shopping will have to be done in the morning.
So we too are going away to the beach with 3 rules to follow for these long days of summer.
1) siesta from 1-4pm (or later), 2) don't dine before 9pm (or later), and 3) la passeggiata e il aperitivo! (An evening stroll walk and an aperitif.)

Buon estate a tutti! (A great summer to all!)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday 25 July return to Roma

Well our restaurant last night did not live up to the standard of the Gambero Rozzo or our expectations. A few things went wrong, first despite having confirmed our reservation with us, it was not in their book. We had a table but again it was in an odd corner of the restaurant. The restaurant itself has lots of character in its décor, frescoes, wook beamed ceilings. The waiter took his time in bringing the menus, then brought the white wine just left the bottle on the table, we had to ask for an ice bucket. The waiter looked indifferent not caring much, distant, the room was half empty.

The food was ordinary, really not worth the price, poor quality to euro value. I had a sea food salad which is usually about 8 euros in any restaurant in Rome, here it was 20 euros, main course monkfish, good but again nothing special with a side dish of fiori di zucca, just the flowers no stuffing, good but again I thought this is not freshly made, they have been sitting on the counter. For dessert fruiti di bosco, only the raspberries where good and sweet, the other berries were sour. Will did not have much luck either, his antipasto was prosciutto with figs which he liked but the main dish was overdone with mozzarella. Will write to Gambero to tell them that this recommendation was a huge disappointment. After dinner we went walking in central Milan, very quiet at night but so many beautiful shop windows, something we do not see in Rome.

Il Duomo Milan

Speaking of which, big scandal yesterday, the Italian police raided a sweatshop where dozens of Chinese workers do piecemeal work on clothing. Now all of them had their papers in order, no illegal workers here. The discovery was that all the work they were doing for a few centimes per item, all of it is for known Italian designer brands, customers usually pay large sums of money for one clothing item thinking that it was done by professionals, not so. This is a growing problem in Italy, you get a lot of made in China copies of designer items, cheaply made and you also get now items made in Italian sweatshops. In both cases the items are not worth the price tag. A retired tailor who worked for 50 yrs for one well known designer told me that nowadays people want labels they do not look for quality in workmanship as was the fashion years ago. Designers know this and give the public the labels, nothing more, sad really. The same can be said of the actual work of the designers, today the big names are too busy managing their image and business empire to actually design, sketch or draw new patterns for clothes or other items. They have apprentice to do this work, they may look over the work, give general instructions, make sure it is more or less what they want or has their trade mark, that is were it ends. You pay for the name, so buyer beware!

Teatro alla Scala, Milan

We went last night to La Scala to see Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini. The cast included Juan Diego Florez as Count Almaviva, Alessandro Corbelli as Dr. Bartolo, Joyce Didonato as Rosina and Franco Vassallo as Figaro.

Beautiful, clear voices for a light opera. The conductor was a young fellow Michele Mariotti, the production is 40 years old and was a creation of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.
Will remembered it from seeing this production many moons ago.

One great scene is when Basilio, a priest, a role sung by Alexander Tsymbalyuk, explains to Bartolo how they will get rid of Lindoro aka Count Almaviva, is shadow on the back drop grows and grows and becomes comical and terrifying all at once. Finally Bartolo takes away the oil lamps so the shadow will go away, so afraid he is of it.
At one point the show stopped after an aria by Juan Diego Flores who received 5 minutes of thunderous applause by the audience who were demanding an encore. La Scala theatre has been completely rebuilt, it is very beautiful to look at.

Ballroom, bar area

La Scala auditorium

We went to a little café called Il Salotto in the Galleria Vittotio Emanuelle II after the show, the food was quite good, very nice waiters, we had a Risoto Milanese, saffron and chicken stock and a Milanese veal cotelette (chop) not the usual scaloppini, lightly breaded and fried, very good.

We slept very well, tired as we were, it had been a long day but what fun. I have to say that all these years traveling with Mr. Will is always fun, he knows how to make a trip interesting.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Saturday in Milan

We went shopping today and we also went to see an exhibit in Palazzo Morando in Via San Andrea near the corner of Via Monte Napoleone. The exhibit entitled Il costume veste la Musica was created by l’atelier del Teatro alla Scala, Milan. On show, costumes created for operas presented in years past at La Scala, truly beautiful creations, it gave us a good idea of the cost of mounting an opera when you see the rich costumes.

Afterwards we went a block away at a little restaurant in a beautiful courtyard called Bacaro del Sambuco, via Monte Napoleone 13. The Chef is the mother of the head waiter, a lady who makes you feel welcome. I complimented her on the food and she beamed.
Elegant surroundings and the menu is new Italian cuisine, wonderful creations with all the original flavours and ingredients, simply presented. I had the red tuna tartare salad and Will had a salad of chicken breast meat, poached egg and local cheese. For dessert a sorbet of ginger, all of it accompanied by a white wine of the Friuli region RBL.

Bacaro del Sambuco, via Monte Napoleone

Red Tuna Tartare

salad of chicken breast and poached egg

Ginger sorbet

We also shopped at Frette, the sales are on now 30 to 50% off all linens. Beautiful sheets and pillow cases, good quality and designs. They have contour sheets and North American sizes, in Europe sheets are usually flat with a light duvet.
Tonite we are having dinner at a restaurant from the Gambero Rozzo guide. Will see if it lives up to the critique, it is not because a restaurant is in a food guide that it is up to scratch.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Weekend Trip to Milano

This is our third wedding anniversary and we are going to Milan for the weekend on the Tren Alto Velocita , (high speed train) from Rome a 4 hour trip, the train as a top speed of 300 km per hour.

The Termini Train Station today was filled with tourists and luggage. It is well organized when you think of the thousands of people who come through this station every day.

This is the Red Arrow train offering service from Napoli to Roma, Firenze, Bologna ending in Milano.
The gentlemen helping the helpless tourists with their luggage (usually North American families) are part of the pick pocket gangs of the Station, did you not notice that they speak a foreign language and they do not look Italian. Yes it is the old trick, prey on the unsuspecting tourist who does not realize that in Italy anyone working somewhere or in any capacity wears a uniform and has an ID badge, these guys are in street clothes, they do not work for Tren Italia. They are very brazen, after helping you badly with your luggage, they ask for payment all the while his colleague picks your pocket. Then they tell you be careful on the train there are many pick pockets. They are gone as quickly as they appear out of nowhere.
Sure enough some people discovered minutes later that their wallet was gone. Coincidence, I don’t think so. To avoid such people, when you spot them, look them sharp in the eye, they will not bother you, they know you spotted them.

At the stop in Firenze, Santa Maria Nova Station, almost every one gets off. A great relief this means we can go and have lunch in the restaurant car, reservations required, in peace.

The menu today, it changes regularly is a first course of pasta then a second course of veal with herbs, dessert, fresh fruits (not canned) and pastries. Wine list available.
The food is usually good, it is an Italian train after all and the service is pleasant.

We arrive in Milan, Province of Lombardy at the border with Switzerland, a Northen City, the Central Station has been redone, built in 1932 during the Fascist Era, it says so on the wall, it is a mixture of Art Deco and Fascist motifs, all done to dwarf the traveller and impress. We are staying in the centre of Milan by the Scala Opera house and the Duomo. Today the centre is crawling with police, the Prime Minister of Italy Sylvio Berlusconi is entertaining his Russian friend V.Putin. The two are good friends and this in turn is good for Italy, trade wise.

Piazza della Scala with the statue to Leonardo da Vinci

Love Milan, the stores, the fashion, the restaurants, everything oozes elegance and style, do not look at the prices, just buy it. This is not Rome, where Rome has history and faded grandeur, Milan has money, banking, trade and style. Look at the bankers in their expensive suits, beautiful ties and highly polished shoes. Every store wants to offer something exclusive. Even in home décor, you can decorate your house to match a designer name. Style reflects who you are or who you want to be. Armani is opening an Hotel in Milan near the Duomo. I can just imagine the room rate.

We went to look for a summer hat for W. so we went to Borsalino, makers of the famous Panama hat. One would say the original, because Borsalino is a name by itself. Wear one and everyone will think you got style. For a simple straw hat, the price is steep. Many people come into the store to look and try on a hat, mostly men.
They are beautiful, classic in style, they are also on sale right now, mid-summer sales in Italy, next month the winter fashion comes out. You can purchase a Borsalino for as little as 174 Euros and spend as much as 350 Euros.
Wear one, it is like driving a Ferrari down the street, all heads will turn.

Borsalino in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, Milan

Tonite we go to La Scala Milan, the venerable and renovated opera house, famous around the world. I was at La Scala 10 years ago to see a work by Francis Poulenc, Le Dialogue des Carmelites, a stunning work. Tonite we are seeing the Barber of Seville with Juan Diego Flores.
Which means that his fans will be there to give him rapturous applause, he is a great tenor and has a superb voice. At La Scala, men must wear a jacket to enter the theatre, it is required. It is very hot and humid today so I brought a linen suit and shirt.
We will have dinner afterwards, a late dinner around midnight.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, Milan

Sunday, 18 July 2010

pink martini - je ne veux pas travailler

Just love this song, use to hear in on TV5 Matin in Beijing, everyday. Just a fun song to carry your mind away.

Porto Ercole, 17 July 1610

Last night was the 400th anniversary of the death of Michaelangelo Merisi known as Caravaggio in Porto Ercole. He apparently was murdered as a revenge for the murder of another man who belonged to a gang. Caravaggio was on his way back to Rome from Sicily and Naples where he had fled to receive a pardon from the Pope. His offense had occured in Rome which at the time was a Papal State.

Caravaggio was known as a dissolute man but also a very great artist, Rome has witnessed this year one great exhibit at the Scuderie of the Quirinale Palace. His style was to present in painting scenes of the bible using as his models ordinary street people. Per example his model for the Madonna was often a common prostitute or he would use other street people to portray Saints, angels or biblical figures. Giving a feeling of truth and a realism not seen from other artists before him or even from his contemporaries.

So open from 9pm to 9am where four places in Rome displaying works by Caravaggio, the church of St-Louis of the French, the Basilica of Santo Agostino, the Church of Santa Maria Del Popolo, and the Galleria Borghese at Villa Borghese. We visited the first two churches fairly quickly despite the crowds, this was an all night free event. Then we went to Villa Borghese, the crowds where enormous, we waited in the beautiful park of the Villa well over 2 hours to enter. Villa Borghese is probably one of the most famous museums of Rome and the permanent collection is renowned around the world. I had not yet visited this museum in my 3 years in Rome, but I would say that if this if the only museum you see in Rome, that would be fine. When we entered finally around 3:00 am, I was struck by the wealth of the art on display, it is difficult to explain, there is so much to look at all at once. From the intricate colored marble floors, to the mosaics from imperial villas, to the numerous marble statues and the painted frescoed walls and ceilings not to mention the paintings on display.

Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V Borghese, had the palace built 1613-1615 simply to display all the works of art he had collected. Borghese used the immense wealth that he acquired as Cardinal Nephew to assemble one of the largest and most impressive art collections in Europe. In the classic pattern of papal nepotism, Cardinal Borghese wielded enormous power as the Pope's secretary and effective head of the Vatican government. On his own and the Pope's behalf he amassed an enormous fortune through papal fees and taxes, and acquired vast land holdings for the Borghese family.

Borghese also greatly admired Caravaggio's naturalistic and psychologically complex later religious paintings, such as the brooding (but still sensual) youthful Saint John the Baptist (1605/6), which the collector acquired from the artist's estate shortly after his death, and the intense David with the Head of Goliath (1609/10), which represents the Biblical hero extending outwards a decapitated head with the features of the artist
Borghese appropriated Caravaggio's Madonna and Child with St. Anne, a large altarpiece commissioned in 1605 for a chapel in the Basilica of Saint Peter's, but rejected by the College of Cardinals because of its earthly realism.

We can only be thankful to such men as Cardinal Scipione Borghese for their good taste which have come to us in the masterpieces we could admire last night.

The Vatican is burning.

Just read in the New York Times a very good editorial by Maureen Dowd.
Rome Fiddles, We Burn
Published: July 16, 2010

I would simply change the title because Rome is the Capital of Italy and not of the Vatican which is a separate City State.

Ms Dowd makes several points which shows how much the senior management of the Vatican from the Pope down simply do not understand or do not wish to understand or see the terrible crisis they are not dealing with at the moment. The most recent pronouncement a new Vatican document links raping children with ordaining women as priests, deeming both “graviora delicta,” or grave offenses. Clerics who attempt to ordain women can now be defrocked.
How out of touch with reality can you get.

Ms. Dowd says in her article:
The Catholic Church continued to heap insult upon injury when it revealed its long-awaited new rules on clergy sex abuse, rules that the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said signaled a commitment to grasp the nettle with “rigor and transparency.”

The church still believes in its own intrinsic holiness despite all evidence to the contrary. It thinks it’s making huge concessions on the unstoppable abuse scandal when it’s taking baby steps.

The casuistic document did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of pedophilia; it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police; it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug; it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children; it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.

There is no moral awakening here. The cruelty and indecency of child abuse once more inspires tactical contrition. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution

In other words the R.C. Church is trying to save the furniture while the building is on fire. Protecting itself, its priviledges, its properties and all other wordly goods it truly what it is all about. It is not about Jesus teachings or the word of God. No wonder there is a lack of vocations and priests are in very short supply everywhere, who wants to be a priest nowadays.

In the view of the Vatican, the church can never be wrong, the Vatican and the Pope make no mistakes ever. That is also Church doctrine invoke by Pope Pius IX in 1880 to protect himself against the New Italian Republic.
As one missionary said in Court during a trial on a pedophilia case, protecting the interest of the Church is far more important than some child abuse case, because the Church is doing God's work.
Interesting point of view isn't it?

What we see today has always been the position of the Vatican and this from the beginning when Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity as the only religion of the many religions of the Empire at the time. Protecting its material interest is paramount, religion is secondary.
The Church cannot change? Too bad really for all those in charge. What I see is the end of an institution as we speak, of course the zealots will always be around to defend Pope and institution no matter what, but if devout Catholic can walk away as we see it now, the Pope and others around him will be left whirling in the wind.

In other words, Trust in God, forget the rest.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Shades of Green Acres!

Do you remember the TV sitcom show Green Acres with Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 1970's about a wealthy New York lawyer and his Hungarian refugee wife who move to the country side and renovated a house. Well in Rome we have a bit of that after a fashion. The former Playboy playmate Ms Rita Jenrette has done well for herself, she is the ex-wife of ex-congressman John Jenrette now in jail in the USA for criminal activity.

She married last year HSH Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino, of the ancient and noble Boncompagni-Ludovisi family. Their Palace Villa Aurora in Rome was once part of the Villa Ludovisi complex of 36 hectares in the centre of Rome, most of it was sold by the family and demolished in 1880 to make way for Via Veneto, which is the no.1 wealthy tourist trap in Rome, with its hotels, restaurants and prices to send anyone into orbit, a processed cheese sandwich at 40 euros, a cup of tea at 15 euros.

Villa Aurora was built in 1570 and houses art treasures value to close to 800 million euros. The family comes from Piombino and are part of what is called Papal Aristocracy, meaning that the Pope as Sovereign elevated them to Princely status. The family counts 2 popes Gregory XIII and Gregory XV, who gave us the Gregorian Calendar and is considered amongst the richest families in Italy. Their family mausoleum in the celebrated Campo Verano Cemetery in Rome is covered in golden mosaics which shines bright in the late afternoon as the sun illuminates the building, even in death they stand out.

Rita urged the very private prince to open the house to wealthy American tourists. Today, this onetime U.S. congressional wife and businesswoman gives tours herself, recounting the history of the 16th-century house and its collection of masterpieces including ceilings by Caravaggio and Guercino.

Rita certainly saw an opportunity to make a few bucks by opening up Villa Aurora, she apparently wants to bring life back to the house, and give happiness and joy to visitors who would not have had the chance to see the masterpieces. I can just imagine what other Princely families in Rome are thinking. These great houses in Rome are never opened to the public, let alone silly tourists. The Princes guard the exclusivity of their rarefied circles jealously and surround themselves with people who match their social standing, money alone is not good enough.

Near us we have Villa Albani with its large gardens, Prince Torlonia whose family is equally famous, never opens the park or his palace to the public. You can only admire from the tall front gates what lies beyond. Prince Colona only opens a couple of State Rooms in his central Rome Palace 3 hours a week for people to visit and this is done with enough condescension that you feel privileged to be able to admire the wealth of his family.

Well there goes the neighborhood!

planning our August vacation

In August it is the time honored tradition of vacation for all of Italy, everyone and everything will be either gone on vacation and businesses will be either shut or on very reduced hours of operation, this includes banks, grocery stores, city public works, the government, doctors, hospitals, gas stations, mechanics, in other words everything. You have to see it to believe it, the whole country shuts down. We will do like everyone else and go away to the sea side. This year we return to Pesaro in the Marche region on the Adriatic and on our return journey we will stop in Gubbio, Assisi and Perugia in Umbria region.
This year is a special anniversary, it is the 800 anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Order by St-Francis of Assisi, a very peculiar man who the Pope did not entirely approve of, because of his radical ideas of poverty. I think that the Pope as Sovereign of the World as he styled himself and lived in what is called to this day the Sacred Apostolic Palace, must have felt embarrassed in front of this man who spoke plainly and lived amongst the poor, preaching humility in the service of God.

Just yesterday I was reading the blog Italian notebook and found out that the Chapel of Santo Nicolo in Assisi is undergoing major renovations and the beautiful interior is being completely cleaned, revealing the original colors of the frescoes as they were when Giotto painted them centuries ago. You can visit the Chapel while the work goes on on special appointment and reserve a time to see the artists at work. This is what we did, a special treat to see such work in process, it is called ''Giotto come era'' or Giotto as it was. See also

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday drive

This Sunday morning, we drove out of Rome going south east, towards the village of Ariccia which is on the other side of the volcanic lake, opposite Castel Gandolfo, the summer Palace of the Pope. Ariccia is not really that far from Rome nowadays, it is considered the far suburbs and is reached by following the Via Appia Nova . Ariccia is built up on the crest of what is left of an ancient volcano. The Chigi Family, wealthy bankers from Siena, built their summer Palace in Ariccia. This was at the time of Pope Alexander VII Chigi (1655-1667), the same pope who built up Rome, one of his most famous project being the Piazza del Popolo in Rome and of course the Bernini colonnade of St-Peter's Basilica and also his mausoleum inside St-Peter's also by Bernini.

The Chigi family is well known in Siena, Rome and in Italy for numerous works of art they commissioned from artists like Rafael, Bernini and others to enhance their name and standing in society. In Rome the Chigi also had several palaces all more magnificent than the other, one is the Palazzo Chigi on the Piazza della Colona, used today as the Office of the Italian Prime Minister. The Chigi Palace in Ariccia was also the setting for the movie The Leopard by Luchino Visconti, which starred Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale. The movie was made from the famous novel Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa which chronicles life in Sicily between 1860 and 1910.

The Chigi Family lives on today in Ostia, they have a palace by the sea where Prince Mario Chigi his wife and son Duke Flavio live. The summer Palace in Ariccia was in the family until 1988 when they gave it to the City of Ariccia with specific conditions for its use and including the enormous forested park attached to it. The first born son of the Chigi family has held the important role of Custodian of the Conclave and Marshal of the Holy Roman Church, with the delicate duty of watching over the college of cardinals during the conclave meetings.

Across the Piazza from the Palace, another Cardinal Chigi, the family counts 4 famous Cardinals, built the Church of Santa Maria Assunta al Cielo, as a smaller version of the Pantheon of Rome. The Palace is beautiful to visit, the Chigi family left many artifacts behind and it has a feeling of being lived in. As you move from one room to another, you notice the family paintings and photos, you notice that they are related to other Princely and Royal Families, like that of Bavaria and Russia and in Italy to the Families Della Rovere (see Canadian Embassy), Borghese and Farnese.

Ariccia itself is delighful, the food specialty of the town is roast pork, many restaurants offer it on their menu, wines are the Castelli Romani label, and locally produced honey and cheeses. We went to a very nice Enogastronomia called Spazio Art'e on Piazza Repubblica which is located in front of the Palace of Lucien Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon who lived in Ariccia for a time.

Being on my detox weekend I watched Monsieur have a plate of wonderful roast pork with a balsamic vinegar dressing decorated with a few sliced prunes. I had a nice salad. The view from the restaurant was the valley below. It was very quiet and it does not appear that Ariccia is on the tourist map, a shame really, because it is so nice and peaceful with many beautiful things to see and taste. Most of the traffic turns off to go to Castel Gandolfo to see the Pope who spends his summer away from Rome, taking with him the entire Vatican court.

Do have a look at the site of Ariccia it is well worth it;

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday with the Chef

This Saturday morning I went on a walk with Chef Deb (Deborah Rankine) who is on YouTube and also has a blog, a TV show and gives cooking classes in Canada. She gave me a copy of her book. Her web site is: and
We met through the Internet, I saw her on YouTube and sent in a comment about one of her recipes. She answered asking me about restaurants in Rome and then told me she was coming to Rome with her family for a visit.

She said she wanted to see a local fresh produce market in Rome where Romans shop for food. I met her at Porta Pia and we went around the corner to the market of Piazza Alessandria. She bought wine and olive oil, cheese and other Italian specialities. I also took her to 2 enotecas and for coffee in our little local bar. We went to Bartocci on Via Alessandria where she saw the staff make fresh gelato. She got quite a tour of the food shops in our area.

Tomorrow she goes to the Amalfi coast with the family. It was fun to meet her and to be able to show her around my neighborhood.

Friday, 9 July 2010

diet & balance

Since I arrived in Italy I have gained weight, how much I am not sure exactly, maybe 3 kg. that is about 6.6 lbs. not a lot but I don't like it. I did a lot of gym work in China, boxing helped me to loose weight quickly. I really enjoyed the boxing exercise and a few years ago I also developed a fondness for Thai kick boxing. Here in Rome it is different, I don't feel like going to a gym and I really need a coach to push and motivate me.
About a week ago a colleague at work mentioned this dietitian in Parioli. I made an appointment and went to see her today.
First the good news, I found out that I do not weigh 85 kg as I thought but 79.4 kg big difference when you think of it. I would like to weigh between 70 to 75 Kg. or 154 to 165 lbs. So I need to loose 10 pounds to reach the top of my ideal weight.

More importantly I have to reduce by body fat mass, this is the dangerous fat around the waist for men which can lead to all kinds of health problems as you grow older. The doctor is German and speaks Italian, I understand Italian but speak to her in English which she understands. Basically she explained that this is not a diet, diets do not work and are a fad which gives the illusion that you are trying to do something. You have to eat and be happy with what you are eating and she is not asking me to change my eating habits either. It is all about balance and amounts of food you eat to satisfy your appetite and drinking 2 liters of water per day.

She explained that I should not eat a large amount of pasta with a rich sauce and then have bread and a rich dessert all at once. I do not do that but I can see that I should not do a Primi (pasta) and as Secundi (meat) at the restaurant. Basically you eat a pasta dish with a sauce but the amount is reasonable, measured, no bread and no rich sweet dessert, instead have a fruit for dessert. If you have a steak eat, 100 gr, no potatoes, instead have a green salad with a spoon of olive oil. So basically I knew all this before and it reminded me of what I had seen in China and in Italy in terms of eating habits. This is why men are thin here.

This weekend I will do sort of a detox diet, only fruits, salad and 2 liters of water per day. Bread is not out, but if I have some it should be dark Rye bread.

I return to see her in 2 weeks for a second evaluation. Here we go, what we will not do for la bella figura.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

stereotype Canadian TV style

I was looking on at a series of videos by Chef Deb Rankine who is a Canadian Chef showing what can be done in terms of cooking simple recipes for people who don't have a lot of skills in the kitchen and who may feel intimidated by preparing any type of food not already in a box.

Chef Deb is quite good as a teacher and her recipes are easy for anyone who might want to gather some courage and try preparing a meal that looks good and taste good. However the producer of the show probably thought it would be a good idea to add 2 side kicks for action and fun. The only problem is that they are both stereotypes and diminish all together the value of what Chef Deb is preparing and explaining.

One is the typical caricature of the male, Christian is overweight, middle age, badly dressed, not terribly interested in what is going on and making inane comments. You know that this guy would not be able to boil water even if his life depended on it. In fact you wonder why he is even on the show. Was it to show that men too can cook?

The other is the young career female Kasha, who has to show that she is smarter than the counterpart male and is trying to show off in front of Chef Deb. You know that she cannot cook either, she gushes and makes equally inane comments. When she is told to be careful to avoid cross contamination while preparing poultry, she makes a face. When she puts on latex gloves to prepare the meat the indication is that she might also give bozo next to her a prostate examination.

All this is done to tell the public watching, don't worry folks, cooking does not require a lot of brain power and none of this will be a mental challenge. In other words lets keep this cooking show at the lowest common denominator.

The other thing that is annoying is that the show has to be geared towards families of 4 to 6 people. Why is that?
Is it possible to explain a recipe without having to tell everyone in advance this will serve so many people, is the public that dumb.

It seems that we love on Canadian television to stick to stereotypes. Women cook, men can't, cooking shows are for families and no one else. Single people don't need to cook because they have no responsibilities. Don't challenge the public's intelligence with big words and concepts, keep it real simple.

My question to Chef Deb is who told you that Havarti Cheese is a Mediterranean food? Never heard of Pecorino goat cheese or Mozarella?

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Today is July 1 and we celebrate CANADA, 1534-1867-2010
This video was made by 2 kids from Canada, different and fun.
Enjoy the day!