There's a battle between what the cook thinks is high art and what the customer just wants to eat.
The passion of the Italian or the Italian-American population is endless for food and lore and everything about it.
I just signed to do my next book with Ecco Press, a new primer or encyclopedia. This will be my take on what classic Italian cooking is.
To eat the boiled head of a pig sliced like salami is very strange. It may seem cutting edge, but it's actually a lot older than any of the other traditional salami.
In America, I would say New York and New Orleans are the two most interesting food towns. In New Orleans, they don't have a bad deli. There's no mediocrity accepted.
There are pockets of great food in Spain, but there are also pockets of very mediocre food in Spain, and the same in Morocco and the same in Croatia and the same in Germany and the same in Austria.
We would load up the yellow Cutlass Supreme station wagon and pick blackberries during blackberry season or spring onions during spring onion season. For us, food was part of the fabric of our day.
As they say in Italy, Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other. The Medici family had to bring their Tuscan cooks up there so they could make something edible.
You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else.
When I was in college, I used to write little ditties and short stories and poetry for my friends. Writing a book is another thing. It is so much different from my traditional day of dirty fingernails and greasy hair and hot pans.