Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Reading List: Food, Food, FOOD!

Farinata with an interesting white wine at the #Eataly Pavilion.
That's all everyone is talking about right now.
I live in Italy, and Italian food is ... well, do I really have to explain that?

The main reason that food is on everyone's minds is that Expo2015 is all about food, so it seems obvious that this month's book list should discuss the topic.

How many cookbooks do you own? At last count, I think I had between 40 and 50. Some of them are really small paperbacks, and some are nice big treasures with lots of pictures. A few were given to me as gifts, and one or two are legacies from grandmothers.

My favorites?  They're oldies but goodies.
The Microwave Guide and Cookbook by General Electric Company.
La Cucina, edited and adapted by Myra Street with a wine section by Serena Sutcliffe.

Chocolat by Stephan Lagorce is absolutely fabulous!
Of course, my copy is in Italian.

This very creatively packaged book looks like a wrapped chocolate bar, with a label listing its weight, storage instructions (keep in a dry place at a temperature between 16-30°C/60-86°F), and even an expiration date.  It covers everything from recipes to tasting instructions.

Aside from my paper cookbooks, I also pull recipes off the Internet whenever I need something specific, and I mix and match recipes to form my own original concoctions. This process has led to the creation of a whole range of Cookie in a Mug recipes, which I'll share with you next month.

However, not all books about food are cookbooks, though, and I wanted to mention a couple that I've read about nutrition and food-related topics.

Modern society has a lot of problems in dealing with food: waste, nutrition, wholesomeness, and excess consumption are the main ones. Did you know that it is possible to be obese and still be malnourished? We don't eat the right things and we eat too much of the wrong things.

These two books will point you in the right direction. The only catch is that you actually have to follow directions to get results.

In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
The Family Nutrition Workbook by Patrick Holford

Please feel free to mention your favorite cookbook, or book about food, in the comments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Reading List

It's absolutely crazy at work! Every business in Milan is preparing for either (or both!) the EXPO or the Salone del Mobile - which is only the biggest international furniture fair in Europe.
My translation business is involved in the preparation for these events, so I'm doing lots of furniture or tourism related text.

It's interesting to get to know the history of a thriving company, and the passion that helped it get where it is now. At this difficult time for the economy, companies are looking to attract customers and, naturally, sell their products.

The buzzwords? Natural, environmentally friendly, innovation, convenience, comfort, timeless beauty, durability, and my personal pet peeve for this year: avant-garde. Why o why has every copywriter starting using that word?

Anyway, have you read any good business books lately?

Business books are filled with marketing tips and encouragement, and they don't beat around the bush. It's as plain as day that no matter how good your idea is, you still have to study and work hard to be successful, so in addition to the three books below, you might want to sign up on Read Cheaply to get others for free or with a discount.

Leave a comment to tell me the title of your favorite business book.

Mrs. Moneypenny's Careers Advice for Ambitious Women
Writing for Dollars: 75 Tips for the Freelance Writers by John McCollister
The Writer's and Photographer's Guide to Global Markets by Michael Sedge

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What's going on this spring?


I decided to work on a short story for this round of Camp NaNoWriMo, though I already know it's going to be hard to finish. This time of year, I've always got a ton of work to do, especially at the beginning of April. We'll see what I can manage to get done.

My story is about a woman who makes a big decision when she is young, without really realizing how important it is until much later. I'm trying to explore our need to give and receive advice, and why we are willing to believe certain things or people.

What do you think about advice? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

EXPO 2015

The World's Fair will be opening on May 1st in Milan and everything is really crazy. Some of the construction work isn't finished yet, and there have been the usual accusations of politicians spending all the money before things were actually paid for. In fact, last year I saw advertisements for volunteers to work the stands! It seems that there is no money to pay people to work, but I really don't know. You can't believe half of what you read in the newspapers.

There are so many things going on that I'm having trouble deciding what to do at EXPO 2015. The theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" is kind of a catch-all for environmental and health issues.

I love food. Maybe I'll just concentrate on eating....


I will definitely be going to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Palazzo Reale. It is going to feature the biggest collection ever put together of Leonardo's artwork and writings.

Leonardo left many pieces of his artwork in Milan, such as the "Sala delle Assi", which is room in the castle with the ceiling and walls painted to look like a forest. It's really impressive.

This fresco pictured above, the Last Supper, is probably his best known work worldwide. It is absolutely marvelous. It's located right here in downtown Milan at the church Santa Maria delle Grazie, and I've seen it several times.

It's right in season too, isn't it. Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Looking back...

Sometimes we get nostalgic. Poetry is a good way to express those feelings and give them a particular weight.

This is a piece that I sent to the 2002 edition of the "Montagne d'Argento" contest from Keltia Editrice, and it was chosen for publication. The theme was childhood games and toys, and so I chose this and translated it.  

Dolls in the Closet

As I look at them today,
They seem to ask:
Where have you been, little one?
You used to pay close attention,
And care daily for us-
Dress us, and brush our hair.
What toys are you playing with
Now that you are grown?

A window to childhood –
These dolls in the closet.
Lifeless creatures of plastic
That once were so real.
The sisters I never had,
Or the children I would have someday.
They played these roles, once-
Long ago.

Now, as I brush their hair again
And wipe away from their eyes
The dust of the years-
Their faces shine beautiful
As always.
And after I’ve fixed them
All up again, with ponytails
And changed clothes,
Back into the closet they go-
To await the next time
I come to play.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Reading List - In Public

What are you reading now?
Do you read on the bus, at the mall, or anywhere people can see what you're reading? On my commutes to and from work, I like to take a paperback or read from my cell phone e-reader, but sometimes I do stick a hardback in my briefcase just because I'm on the last chapter. (The issue with that is weight, not subject matter. My briefcase is heavy sometimes.)

Here are a few of the books I have read on the bus.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Indescribable by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman
The Ultimate Prescription: What the Medical Profession Isn't Telling You by James L. Marcum
God on the Streets of Gotham by Paul Assay
Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt  by Christi Paul
Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching by Diane Larsen-Freeman

... and finally, a book that you should all read because it's fun ...
Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

I don't notice what others are reading that much (especially if I've got my own nose in my own book), but I think they read the same things on the bus that they would at home. We read for our own interests or study needs, and after work it's really nice to sit down with a good book.

Leave a comment and let me know what you've read in public.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

English translation of Coma - GialloMilanese 2014

Finally! Here is the official English translation of my short story, Coma, published in December 2014 in the anthology GialloMilanese 2014. Click on the sidebar to read the complete story, and leave a comment if you like it.

The original version is in Italian, available only from ExCogita Publisher.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February Reading List

I have a stack of books that I want to read.

I haven't measured it lately, but it's probably taller than me. Now, before somebody comments on my height (or lack thereof, I should say), let me add that in addition to the physical paper books that I own, you need to count the over 100 ebooks that I've downloaded over the past year.

In fact, I just don't read those emails from Read Cheaply that often any more because I always find something to download!

Right now I'm reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I found this book before Christmas at the Lambrate subway station.
As I came down the steps that day, there was a man coming through the turnstile shouting and cursing at complete strangers. He was livid with anger, and as I tried to avoid him, I happened to see a book setting on the newspaper dispenser with the Italian title "The measurement of happiness".


I almost handed it to the guy, but I figured he'd probably just throw it at me. I'm so glad I decided to keep it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Other titles on my list are: Philomena by Martin Sixsmith, Inferno by Dan Brown, La pioggia fa sul serio by Francesco Guccini and Loriano Macchiavelli, Undici per la Liguria (collection of 11 stories), and Experience Your Bible by Josh and Sean McDowell.

What's on your reading list?