I was nourished in the womb by Pepe’s Apizza via my expectant mother, and born in New Haven, Connecticut into an Italian American family. I grew up as an only child on a dead-end road in a small, rural town. At nine months of age, my first “real” food was one of my great Aunt Phil’s meatballs, and my first “real” word was “cookie.” Important events and rituals in my family were all inextricably linked to food. Thanks to Ms. Magazine’s Free to Be You and Me album, I became a burgeoning feminist at age 4.
I read books as if my life depended on it, kept a victrola in my bedroom and plastered my walls with Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and Rita Hayworth. Before long I was acting in community theatre and longed for the stages of New York City. I was obsessing over Judy Garland as I sang at a German beer garden on the Connecticut shoreline one summer, using the cash I earned to buy my first computer en route to Sarah Lawrence College. There, I studied literature, philosophy, psychology, and theatre and thought it was cool to stay home on a Saturday night reading Woolf or Beckett or Nietzsche while drinking Harvey’s Bristol Cream. I played Ado Annie in summer stock in New Hampshire and spent my junior year in Paris, where I learned a little about “Art” and a lot about people watching. I read a book by Kandinsky in a room of Kandinsky paintings. Still, I made pasta fagioli and my Aunt Mary’s pignoli cookies.
After college, I moved to New York City’s Little Italy and pursued my dream of being an actor. I had no work so I found a landlord who also gave me a waitressing job. I was cast in a lot of off off-off-Broadway plays, all the while scraping for subway tokens at the bottom of my purse. I learned about tasting across the street from my apartment from Louie, the owner of the famous cheese store Di Palo’s, and I learned about business at my corporate temp jobs, and three years at an investment bank. I became an assistant director at a gallery in Soho. Later, I worked for 10 years as an associate producer in the corporate arena for national meetings, broadcasts, webcasts, and videos.
One weekend, I took a solo performance workshop in Brooklyn, where I developed a performance act that entailed me reading a recipe for linguine and clams from the back of a can of tomatoes, with Mae West singing in the background and a little Roland Barthes thrown in for good measure. I called it “food burlesque.”
Then, like a lightning bolt, I saw my life story as dominated by food, and became curious about the stories behind what we eat, and how food can serve as a lens through which to explore history and culture. And so, in 2010, I started a blog called Foodie Fatale, often exploring Connecticut, where I had recently returned to live. A few months later, I wrote for an independent newspaper called The New Haven Advocate. And within a few more months, The New Haven Register, Connecticut Magazine and Yankee Magazine. Later, The Washington Post, Saveur, The Boston Globe and Parade Magazine, among others. Along the way, I produced and hosted an NPR radio pilot Foodie Fatale, with guest Roadfood’s Michael Stern, and have been a guest on a variety of radio and TV programs. Throughout it all, I have loved meeting and interviewing people for the stories I’ve written. I am continually delighted by the unexpected things I discover.