Delivery riders have had a demanding year. But, across the world, 2020 has shown that the fight for their rights is far from over.

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Delivery riders have had a demanding year. While many of us experienced the pandemic from our home, these guys — working for Deliveroo, Just Eat, or Glovo — spent lockdown crossing cities and delivering meals. In short, they did their job, just like many others, and they were quickly classed as ‘essential’ workers.

Yet, as many have pointed out, essential has sounded a little too much like expendable in 2020. Health workers have been applauded, sure…


lasagne con radicchio e taleggio
lasagne con radicchio e taleggio

On lords, layers, and lunches. With a recipe for lasagne with radicchio and taleggio.

Once upon a time, in my unenlightened days, some doughnut told me that, in Italian, ‘lasagne’ means ‘layers’. You can sort of see why I might have believed this: the nice strata of pasta are, to state the blindingly obvious, the most characteristic thing about the dish.

However, hoping to impress Giulia with this fact, I was disappointed to have her laugh in my face. I was a little embarrassed when she told Rosa and Giuliano this, who again laughed in my face. …


Cacio e pepe — and a mistake while sharing spaghetti.

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Photo by Svetlana Gumerova on Unsplash

The recent years of my life have brought me a greater sense of what it means to eat well. A sense of why people might cook food and enjoy it. A sense of which flavours make sense with others, and why dishes are the way they are.

It’s not always been like that.

Rewind two years and I’m in a restaurant in Milan, on my first trip to the city to see Giulia. We’re with her closest friend and her friend’s partner — in a restaurant, Giulio Pane e Ojo…


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‘Full English Brexit’. Image from Unsplash.

Why We Talk about Food When We Talk about Brexit.

Last week, an amazingly weird video was released by the Conservative Party to ‘kick off’ their election campaign, in which Boris Johnson gave a staged interview to a faceless voice whilst fumbling around in an office kitchen.

Apart from all the fairly obvious content about Johnson listening to the Rolling Stones and the political disaster that a — curiously familiar-sounding — ‘coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn’ would bring, there was a line about the Tory Brexit deal that was striking.

According to Johnson, this deal was ‘oven-ready, slam it in the microwave’. He would go on to use this…


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Matteo Salvini — scoffing. (Image from Il Fatto Quotidiano: https://tinyurl.com/yy6xv6yo)

When a nation’s passion for food becomes more than a little problematic.

Back in 2014, at the height of the ‘refugee crisis’ that ultimately brought the far-right Italian politician, Matteo Salvini, to popularity, there was a strange story in the Italian news.

Accompanied by images of piles of individually packed meal portions, the story — in Il Giornale, a notoriously populist paper — was that the ‘immigrants’ didn’t like the food that they were being given by authorities.

This, inevitably, was pasta with tomatoes and ‘meat’.

It came at a time at which the press — particularly the right-wing press…


On fish, history, and a holiday to Ventotene.

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Last summer, Giulia’s mum, Rosa, invited us both on holiday to Ventotene, an island off the Italian coast between Rome and Naples. Unsurprisingly, we went. More surprisingly, Giuliano — Giulia’s dad, a man who hates the heat, the sunshine, and the sea — came with us.

Ventotene is known primarily for having been a penal colony under Mussolini. The fascist would send political opponents there or to the prison on Santo Stefano — a tiny island some two kilometres off Ventotene’s coast.

In 2016, with post-Brexit jitters, Merkel, Renzi, and Hollande met…


On Italian aunts and a simple dish of homemade pasta.

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Pisarei

For one reason or another — Giulia’s research, in Modena, and my irresistible love of a holiday — we found ourselves staying for a week or so in Piacenza, with Giulia’s aunt, Lina.

Lina is a doctor — as well as an unbelievable cook and the warmest of hosts. Each time I’ve visited, she asks after my health and takes my blood pressure — and, when we are away, keeps in regular contact with Giulia about my well-being.

This is, apparently, a privilege reserved for me alone — on account…


Featuring the most wonderfully versatile vegetable: the aubergine. Best when fried.

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Pasta alla Norma

A few years ago, I was sat with an Italian woman in a pub. On the suggestion of someone else who was with us, we were discussing our favourite vegetables.

I said mine was broccoli; she — Giulia, the Italian — said aubergines.

We each received snorts of scorn from the other. For me, aubergines were the grey, rubbery, foreign things served up as veggie options by shit pub kitchens. For her, broccoli was the epitome of sad British cuisine, served undercooked, unsalted, and uninspired.

Back then, as is…

Fried Aubergine

Food stories, recipes, and politics from a Brit in an Italian kitchen.

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