Tasting Life Twice

Author Crystal King muses on life, history, writing and food.

Posts about italy:

Scappi's Braised Beef - An Interpretation of a Renaissance Recipe

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Crystal King Aug 25, 2018 12:02:00 PM
Scappi's Braised Beef - An Interpretation of a Renaissance Recipe

Renaissance chef (and character in my second novel), Bartolomeo Scappi, wrote a cookbook that was released in 1570 and was one of the most reprinted cookbooks over the next two hundred years. One of the most wonderful things about his cookbook, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, is that it is still very accessible today. There are exceptions, for example, modern audiences would not be interested in some of the meats (hedgehog or blackbird anyone?), and many of the items are not readily available or, like his feathered peacock, are too elaborate too make.

Fortunately, many of his recipes are are still pretty easy to figure out. Like this one for braised beef:

Crystal King's July Ponderings, Tastings, Travels, Readings and General Updates

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Crystal King Jul 26, 2018 6:30:00 AM
Crystal King's July Ponderings, Tastings, Travels, Readings and General Updates

It's the sticky part of July, nearly the dog days of summer. My mind has been jam-packed with planning for both the fall, and the winter launch of my next novel, THE CHEF'S SECRET. In the midst of that, I've had my mind in a swirl with a variety of other projects, books and ideas--many of which I think might be of interest to my readers and potential readers, so let's unpack it all:

All Things Italy Spring Roundup 2018

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Crystal King May 26, 2018 7:30:00 AM
All Things Italy Spring Roundup 2018
Emilia Romagna

I've been planning a trip to Bologna, where part of my third novel is set. I've been researching the heck out of that area. I already knew it has the oldest university in the world, but one of the things I was most intrigued to find was  Bologna was a city of towers. There were at least 100 towers, many of them upwards of 32 or more stories. Here's an artist's rendering of what it might have looked like in its heyday:

Fit for Royalty - Flamingo Tongue, an Ancient Roman Food

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Crystal King May 7, 2018 9:00:00 AM
Fit for Royalty - Flamingo Tongue, an Ancient Roman Food

 According to the ancient Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, "Apicius, the most gluttonous gorger of all spendthrifts, established the view that the flamingo's tongue has a specially fine flavor."  The poet Martial, who was born a few years before Apicius died, agreed, saying: “My red wing gives me my name, but epicures regard my tongue as tasty. But what if my tongue could sing?”  They don't actually sing, however. They tend to honk and squawk.

My Favorite 2017 Books Set in Italy

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Crystal King Dec 25, 2017 2:01:21 PM
My Favorite 2017 Books Set in Italy

2017 was such a wonderful year for books set in my favorite country, Italia. My own novel, FEAST OF SORROW,  about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, hit bookshelves in April and it's been a crazy, fun, whirlwind year talking to readers and promoting my book. But the best thing about the year, for me, was meeting many of these authors and talking to them about Italy and getting a chance to read their books.

An Italian Roundup for September

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Crystal King Sep 23, 2016 1:40:23 PM
An Italian Roundup for September

I'm a voracious consumer of information, especially about il mio posto preferito sulla terra (my favorite place on earth), Italia. Why not share all those fun tidbits with my readers? I'm going to start doing these roundups more often. We can dream about la bella vita together. 

Buon Natale!

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Crystal King Dec 25, 2015 9:00:16 AM
Buon Natale!

One of the most well-known Italian Christmas carols outside of the US is Caro Gesu Bambino which means "Dear Baby Jesus." It's a newer carol, dating to about 1960 and one of the earliest American-known singers to cover it was Frankie Avalon. The lyrics are here  (Italian and English) if you are interested, and below, Italian treasure Andrea Bocelli does a beautiful version of the song. Buon Natale my friends! And Buone Feste to those of you who are celebrating other holidays. I wish the best for you and yours this season. 

The Fabulous Kessler Twins

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Crystal King Nov 25, 2015 8:55:27 AM
The Fabulous Kessler Twins

I was watching the Italian station RAI Interational the other day and one of the things that I love about the station is that they have little segments with snippets from variety and music shows over the last 40 years or so. It's a fascinating look at the wacky, beautiful, funny and talented side of Italian performers. One of the things they showed last night was a bit from a show that the Kessler Twins did. The Kesslers hail from Munich and were well known in Europe back in the day, particularly in Germany and Italy. Here's a sample of their awesomeness: 

52 books in 2015: A reading list for Jul-Oct

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Crystal King Nov 7, 2015 2:30:58 PM
52 books in 2015: A reading list for Jul-Oct

I have been rather remiss, I fear, in keeping my book list updated here on my blog. I've been reading far more than I had hoped, but certainly not as much as I would like. I am happy to have passed the 50 book barrier with more than a month to spare! Let's see if I can get close to 60 books this year. I'm confident I'll finish at least 2-3 more this month, and hopefully another 3-4 in December. October

Incredible Infographic on the Impact of Ancient Rome, a City of Firsts

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Crystal King Aug 7, 2015 10:23:47 AM
Incredible Infographic on the Impact of Ancient Rome, a City of Firsts

As a result of my research a knew a lot of this great information already but it's great to see how History.com and the design firm Column 5 put it all into such an easily digestible visual.
Allow me a tiny bit of commentary before you dig in below.

Rome by Drone!

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Crystal King Apr 9, 2015 1:39:19 PM

I'm not entirely sure what I think about drone technology. It has incredible possibilities and on the flip side, terrifying possibilities. On the incredible side of things, I love that you can be an armchair traveler and have a birdseye view of beautiful places in the world. One of my favorite videos of this sort is this wonderful view of Rome by drone. It makes me feel desperate to be there again, walking the streets where my novel's characters once walked.  httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTw-kvXS9Sk

A Look at the New Pompeii Movie

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Crystal King Feb 2, 2014 4:00:15 AM
A Look at the New Pompeii Movie

The movie Pompeii, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, is coming out in February and I have to say I've not really been this excited about a movie in a long time. The film has the eye candy of incredible special effects and also Jon Snow himself (Kit Harrington) but what has me most intrigued is that Anderson apparently cares a lot about authenticity when it comes to the story and the era. The film comes out on February 28. I can't wait to find out for myself if that's true!
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoVNF1Zus7Q

My Favorite Books of 2013 So Far

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Crystal King May 13, 2013 6:00:20 AM
My Favorite Books of 2013 So Far

This weekend,  at my fave cocktail bar, Clio, while sipping on Manhattans and rummy drinks called The Sanchez, I got into a conversation with some friends about books. I promised some of my all around historical fiction recommends to them, but I realized that I've read a lot of great books this year that I want to tell others about. And I have a book pile a mile long after the recent Grub Street Muse and the Marketplace conference. I'd love opinions on which one to read first!
This list of 2013 is in no particular order...it would be too hard to do!

Adorable Italian Ad: Armando's Dream

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Crystal King Mar 24, 2013 8:06:52 PM
Adorable Italian Ad: Armando's Dream

I stumbled across this fantastic advertisement for Grano Armando pasta and I had to share. It's an adorable, beautiful mini-film of sorts, about a young Italian boy with a special dream. The cinematography is wonderful and I love the characters in the film. I think it does the trick--if I saw Grano Armando pasta, I think I'd be pretty inclined to think about buying it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfLzvxnazsA

Learning Italian - La Bella Lingua

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Crystal King Mar 19, 2013 6:19:26 AM
Learning Italian - La Bella Lingua

Learning Italian isn't something that I decided to do when I was young, but I wish I had! Instead, when I was in high school, many many years ago, I thought it would be great to learn French. Other kids in the high school in Boise, Idaho were learning Spanish, or perhaps German. I don't even recall if they offered other languages at my school at the time. French seemed elegant, refined, literary and Spanish, while beautiful and I can appreciate it more now, seemed oh so utilitarian back then. Boring.
I was never overly dedicated to the learning the language, but I did ok. The problem was that coming from a family with no money and no passports, the thought of going to France seemed like such a pipe dream (I"ve still not been!). And living in Boise there wasn't a soul with whom I could practice. Still, I persisted even into college, minoring in the language.

Glykinai - Sweet Wine Cakes (Crackers)

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Crystal King Mar 6, 2013 1:13:36 PM
Glykinai - Sweet Wine Cakes (Crackers)

This is an ancient cracker recipe from Athenaeus, a rhetorician and grammarian who lived in Rome in the 3rd century AD. This recipe is a delightful, snacky interpretation of a cracker that was most likely served at taverns in ancient Greece and Rome. The original recipe doesn't give us much direction, but they were likely somewhat similar to the recipe below.
Glykinai: "The cakes from Crete made with sweet wine and olive oil.”  - Athenaeus in The Deipnosophistae