Spoiler alert: If you think that you may be, or have ever been, or just want to be on my Christmas list don’t read any further. Because this post is all about what I’ll be giving everyone this season.
If, however, you are looking for a great gift to give out yourself, read away.
I had the great pleasure to attend the presentation and book signing of the latest book in the series that is being produced by the American Academy’s Rome Sustainable Food Project. Like the first volume, Biscotti, this little jewel of a cookbook has been authored by Mona Talbott.
Six years ago, at the suggestion of Alice Waters, Mona came to the Academy in Rome to retool its food program. With Alice as her mentor, Mona reshaped the entire institution to be sustainable, organic and….one of the most delicious places to eat in Rome.
On a recent Saturday in Rome we heard from Mona, and many of the others who have made the RSFP such a success. Chris Boswell who has now taken over Mona’s position as head chef, spoke about life in the kitchen and its role in the daily life of the Academy Community. Giovanni Bernabei, the organic farmer who is the inspiration and source for the wonderful ingredients that go into each dish, reminisced about the early days of this project. We also met some of the most important people involved in the project: the interns.We heard about not only how much they learn while at the Academy, but how they then go out into the world, with the tools and experience to take sustainability from the personal to the institutional level.
We finally heard from Alice Waters, who spoke eloquently about how important it is to nourish the fellows who come to the Academy to do their work. To be able to study, create and be productive life around the table is an essential element.
After the talks, while Mona and Alice signed books, we all made the rounds of the tables surrounding the courtyard. Four different soups were being dished out:Minestrone di Fagioli Cannellini, Scarola e Polpettine; Favata; Minestra Piccante di Carote; and Minestra di Ceci con Zucca e Farro. We were able to re-use our bowls, wandering from one table to the next, trying out all four soups, as well as the stuffed pizza bianca panini. Biscotti, of course, for dessert.
We also got the chance to buy not only copies of Zuppe, but Biscotti, and several other books by Alice. Marmalade, granola and roasted almonds, along with tea towels, aprons and bags were on sale too. All of the profits from the sale and the lunch went towards the Rome Sustainable Food Project and helps support the internship program.
Besides helping to support both the Academy and the RSFP, as a Friend you also get the added benefit of being invited to attend lectures, exhibitions and events like these. Friends are also able to eat lunch at the Academy. Which (of course) often features these delicious soups. Pretty tempting, right?
But if you’d just like to start filling stockings, both Zuppe and Biscotti are available online everywhere.