Cacio e Pepe Dandelion Greens
Plus: My Roman Jewish cookbook has a title and a layout!
It has been a minute since I’ve updated you about the progress of my Roman Jewish cookbook, which will be published in Fall, 2023 by W.W. Norton (ptu! ptu! ptu!). But I have TWO exciting things to share today.
The book has a title! Say hello to Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen. The name Portico refers to Portico d’Ottavia, the ancient ruin that stands at one end of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto neighborhood. For many centuries, the ruin housed the fish market where Rome’s Jewish community shopped. Portico d’Ottavia is the physical and symbolic front gate of the Ghetto. The word also translates from Italian to English as “porch” or “front porch,” which sounds so homey and inviting, and feels just right for this book. I hope you love the title as much as I do!
I recently received a hard copy of the designed book, and it is breathtakingly gorgeous. From the photos that the book’s photographer Kristin Teig took last fall in Rome and the photos of dishes she shot back in March, to the fonts and layout the book designer chose…it’s all just overwhelmingly wonderful. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at the cookbook-in-progress. And below that, paid subscribers will find a delicious recipe for Cacio e Pepe Dandelion Greens. The exact recipe won’t be in the cookbook, but it is inspired by the book - so let’s call it a sneak peek anyway!
No matter how organized I like to think of myself as being, there’s always a mad dash to get my cookbook manuscript - a.k.a. the massive word and recipe baby I’ve been tending to and tweaking for more than a year - to my editor by the deadline. In the weeks leading up to the deadline, there are plenty of late nights. There are anxiety dreams. There’s a lot of second guessing.
The moment you press send on the email, everything comes to an abrupt standstill. And then, a few months (and some back-and-forth editing) later, a hard copy of the book pages shows up at your door. Portico’s design is still preliminary, and the book doesn’t have binding or a cover yet. But it is so wonderful to see it one step closer to being a physical reality! I may have screamed a little when I opened the package and saw how beautiful it was.
In a moment of pure serendipity, the day after I received the designed book pages, I met up with Micaela Pavoncello and her family, who were visiting New York City for a couple of days. Micaela is a Rome-based tour guide who specializes in tours of the Roman Jewish Ghetto. She was a hugely important collaborator and north star as I researched and wrote Portico, and her influence and words are all over the book.
It was an absolute thrill to show her the book-in-progress - even if it was sprawled over a New York City garbage receptacle (see above) on an exceptionally humid evening, and her three overtired kiddos were *very* ready to get back to their hotel. Thankfully, she gave it her stamp of approval!
Last Thursday I put on a dress, got on the subway, and went into the city. This may seem unremarkable to most, but as a freelancer who primarily works in (very) casual clothes at home, it felt like a real *event.* And it was an important day! My editor at W.W. Norton, Melanie Tortoroli, and I were meeting at her office to go over the book and discuss some photo swaps and other design and layout tweaks.
I accidentally snapped this photo of my feet en route from the subway to her office - but I love it! I think it perfectly captures the spring in my step.
Melanie’s office is close to Bryant Park, and it was a cool, end-of-summer morning that had the first hints of fall in the air. This picture isn’t directly related to the cookbook, but it serves as a reminder that this time next year, it will be out in the world!
Making a cookbook takes a village, and I am so grateful to have Melanie leading the editorial charge! It’s been a joy working with her (and everyone at Norton) - her edits, suggestions, and questions have made the book stronger, and her creative vision is spot on. We spent the morning going through the book to make sure we were on the same page (pun intended) with the design etc. It was a joy.
I’ll keep you up to date with the cookbook’s progress in the months to come. But in the meantime, go make the most of our quickly dwindling summer, and make some Cacio e Pepe Dandelion Greens! (See the recipe below.)
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