Last week during a day trip to Baalbek, my driver Hussien and I stopped for two breakfasts. The first was light (relatively speaking): a thin, crepe-like bread smeared with fresh cheese and honey, then rolled. The second was a bit more substantial: syrup-soaked semolina filled with a soft cheese and stuffed into a sesame seed roll. (more…)

The ancient Temple of Bacchus.

On Tuesday, I visited ancient Heliopolis in the city of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon. Thanks to my degree in art history with a concentration in Roman antiquity, I tend to view archeological sites as being divorced from their contemporary surroundings. I think we all do this to some extent. Of the millions of annual (more…)

WTF is everyone? A failed selfie, some Roman ruins and no people at a spectacular archeological site.

Hey, folks. It’s been a while since I have written a real post and not a list or a round up or a summary of an article published elsewhere. I’m sorry about that. The past year has been a rough one and I am tired. Like, really tired. And it has (more…)


Is there such a thing as Italian cuisine? I’ll be tackling that question alongside historian Professor John Dickie and celebrated chef Francesco Mazzei at a special event at The London Review Bookshop on October 1.

Italy is home to rich and numerous regional cuisines that have been shaped by politics, economics, and geography. What we eat in Rome differs dramatically from classic Neapolitan fare or the typical dishes in the nearby Apennines. Considering the prevalence of unique regional foods, the notion of a universal Italian cuisine may seem absurd. But that doesn’t mean no one has ever tried to invent Italian cuisine.

Industrial food companies like Barilla and Mulino Bianco have been doing it for years and their marketing teams have fabricated national Italian food sensibilities and leveraged local stereotypes for their own commercial benefit in Italy and abroad. Join us for an evening of enlightening debate moderated by author Dino Joannides as we confront the question at hand.

Book your tickets here. The talk will be accompanied by a menu of seasonal food and Rose and Brut Prosecco from Bisol/Jeio. The food is provided by award-winning greengrocer Andreas of Chelsea and L`Emporio Fine Foods.

Artenio Testaccio

If you’re curious how, in spite of intense daily exercise, I keep my BMI right around (emphasis on “round”) 26, it’s simple: I eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My source for the most important meal of the day? That depends. Some mornings I find myself in the centro storico where countless Romans scarf down (more…)