Category Archives: blogging


Not really goodbye

It’s with a mixture of sadness and also some pride that I decided to end the Accidental Chef’s adventures. After over 2 years of nearly daily posting, my life has evolved on and off the page.

A little while ago, those who regularly follow my blog, read about my recent decision to leave my job and take my life in a different direction. In the spirit of doing what satisfies me most, this new direction will still involve some cooking (at a friend’s small restaurant) but, above all, it will be filled with writing.

Together with one of my best friends, who literally lives on the other side of the world, in South Africa, we started a blog-azine called Campari and Sofa aimed at women like us, still vibrant, full of energy and ideas and things to do. It’s a project that started during a trip that was widely chronicled on these pages and finally saw the light of  day while in Rome, amidst the festiv ities for my dreaded 5-0.

I hope that those of you who stuck it out with me from the beginning and those of you who just got here through Freshly Pressed will find something that grabs you in my new venture. Yes, there will be food too and, for WP users, my friend Sue and I chose to stay in this community and launch this project on WP again, despite being two avid Mac girls.

Most of all, I hope you will not only join me on this new journey but will also participate in the conversation. And boys are most definitely welcome.

So, it’s not goodbye, just arrivederci!

To check my  new project out, simply click here!












Filed under blogging, entertainment


Freshly unemployed (ok, by choice so no pity here), I was lying on the couch for a post lunch nap. The dogs made me do it. Sitting at my desk, gathering jumbled thoughts on what to write, their snoring inspired me to get up and take a breather. Sliding into this unusual siesta, I was pondering whether writing about home-made lemonade and pasta would help me ease into this long week-end, purportedly the last week-end of Summer, the one that will turn LA beaches into ant hills, clog all freeways and that will give me even more ammo than needed to veg between the couch and the patio.

My eyes already closed, gentle snoring lulling me into sleep, the beeping sound of e-mails emanating from my iPhone started to jar with my impending dreams. Wait. That is too many e-mails. I am not that popular, not even with telemarketers. Certainly not at 2 in the afternoon.

Because I am a curious monkey and because I felt slightly guilty about the whole napping novelty, I reached for my phone and saw a long sequence of WordPress e-mails. The first comment was from Simply Om, congratulating me on being freshly pressed! WHAT?

The now welcome sound of more e-mails coming in completely jolted me awake. The dogs were duly informed but were not duly impressed. As soon as I started coming down from this very nice high which happened at a time when I am giving my life a makeover, I started thinking about the day I felt the need to publish blog, over two years ago.

The freshly pressed post on my mother’s voice was my 700th and one of the hardest to write. It all began because I wanted to see if I could develop the discipline of writing between 500 and 700 words five days a week, how hard it would be to make some of my thoughts public and to take criticisms. Working full-time, I had little time to publicize what I did, I don’t even have a Facebook page and I never gave much thought to what a blogging community was.  What I most vividly remember of my first post is how long I hesitated to press that “Publish” button, as if nuclear destruction was at my fingertips.

Yet, what started as a selfish endeavour turned out to be an eye opener on the generosity of other writers, an exercise in supporting each other, in making new friends, virtual and otherwise. In unexpected ways, it has even shaped some of the decisions involving my future working life. There have been some nasty comments along the way, a couple of threatening crazies who were quickly confined to the permanent junk, and even those taught me some welcome lessons.

Well, but enough gloating and pondering on the meaning of blogging. Tomorrow it’s back to the drawing board. Thank you WordPress editors and happy labour day week-end everyone.

Back on Tuesday


Filed under blogging, humor, the writing life


Marcella of For Your Good Health was kind enough to nominate me for a Beautiful Blogger Award. Like all these awards that populate the web and that I am sure have the noble intention of making blogs more visible, the rules are:

  1. Add the image of the award to your blog post
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  3. Post seven interesting things about yourself
  4. Nominate other bloggers  you feel deserve the award and let them know

Instead of posting seven interesting things about myself – could they really be that interesting? –  I would rather list seven books for the coming Autumn/Winter season. I know, it’s fairly hot today in Los Angeles and most likely wherever you are sitting  too but it’s too late to talk about Summer reads. All these novels require some time, possibly on the couch, with a cup of tea and the willingness to enter other worlds.

  1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. My current favourite. I am obsessed with Tudor times and, at this point, I know more about the subject than I ever thought possible. Still, this Booker Prize winner, tells some of Henry VIII’s story from Thomas Cromwell’s point of view, in a fresh and detailed new voice.
  2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. At the moment I am reading David Mitchell’s better known Cloud Atlas, another masterpiece, but Jacob de Zoet drew me in with the richness of details and the delicate and unusual love story set in 18th century Japan, a country then still unopened to foreigners.
  3. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Possibly one of the longest novels ever and, yet, I didn’t want it to finish. The story is centered around four Indian families and one woman’s effort to find a suitable match for her daughter.
  4. Saturday by Ian McEwan. I can’t wait for the release of Mr. McEwan’s new novel, an excerpt of which I just read in the New Yorker, as he is one of my favourite authors. The novel takes place in just one day in 2003, protests over the Iraq war in the background, when a surgeon’s week-end routine is disrupted by a violent act.
  5. War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy. If you have never read it, you must. That’s all I am going to say.
  6. The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie. When Rushdie’s books were still great – in this particular one, the narrator traces back the four generations that came before him
  7. Middlemarch by George Eliot. If you haven’t read it in school and have come to the end of the line with Jane Austen, this will satisfy your 19th century English cravings.

As to worthy bloggers, I recently came across :

Doves Today

and I reserve the right to nominate more in the days to come (having a hard time staying on top of all the blogs I come across)

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Filed under blogging, Books


Richard of surprised me and nominated me for a Sunshine Award which I gladly accept. I am always in awe of home cooks who are so dedicated to food and creativity and remcooks is definitely one of them. Maybe because I cook for a living, and am not always willing to come home and cook some more, I envy and admire those who spend so much of their time coming up with recipes, cooking, photographing and then sharing.  So the 10 blogs I am nominating for this award all have one feature in common: dedication to a craft, a cause or just their blog.

The Rules of the Sunshine Award are 1) Accept the award; 2) post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link; 3) answer the questions below; 4) pass the award to 10 other blogs providing links to their blogs; and 5) contacting them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.


1.  favorite color? – Powder Blue, I find it calming

2. favorite animal? – My one and only Ottie dog

3. favorite number? – 7, mystical number par excellence

4. favorite color? –  Same as before

5. favorite drink? – My concoction of Campari, sparkling lemonade and ice. It doesn’t have a name yet but suggestions are welcome

6. Facebook or Twitter? – Neither. I am an extremely private person and I don’t care for the world to know what I am doing or thinking at any given time

7. what is your passion? – Writing, reading, cooking, loving – oh, I should have limited myself to one?

8. giving or getting presents? – Everyone says “giving” but I will have to be honest, as much as I love to see the surprise and the pleasure on the recipients of my gifts, it’s getting.

9. favorite day of the week? – Monday, because it feels like a new beginning

10. favorite flower? – Tulips because they are cheerful

Blogger Nominations

1. My Body, the City – the secret life of a call girl – A former call girl now dedicating her life to freeing other young women trapped in the hell of prostitution

2. Acorn in my the Kitchen – A Brit living in Spain who delights me with his regional recipes and his soundtracks

3. Cristian Mihai – A writer not only dedicated to his craft but also to sharing what he has learnt

4. Stefan’s Gourmet Blog – Like Richard, a man who is not afraid to experiment in the kitchen, with much success stefangourmet

5. Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen – From one pastry chef to another: you rock

6. Looking for Pemberley – Because I have a soft spot for Jane Austen’s devotees

7. Adventures of a Brown Kid – a lovely young man who just started blogging to try to make sense of things

8. For your Good Health – Marcella has a wonderful green thumb and inspires me to get my butt in my garden foryourgoodhealth

9. Crunchy Betty – For her awesome, wholesome and money saving suggestions

10. Strasparlando – You need to speak Italian for this one. Luisa has a wicked sense of humour


Filed under blogging


In the old days, when I would spend a lot of time on planes, I would go to great lengths to avoid talking to my fellow passengers. As soon as I was ensconced in my seat, headphones would swiftly land on my ears or my nose would dive in a book – everything about my body language screamed “Don’t even think about talking to me”. Who knows, maybe I was under the impression no one could have as interesting a life as me.

The truth is, people want to talk to me. I haven’t figured out if I inspire trust, openness or  if I simply look like a good listener but perfect strangers are willing to tell me intimate or personal stories about themselves at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s in line somewhere public, random customers I come across at work or vague acquaintances, they all chat. And it’s mostly people I am not likely to see again.

Italians are masters at striking up casual conversation wherever they find themselves, mostly out of boredom I think, as so much of our time is tied up waiting: at the bank, the post office, the grocery store, we might as well pass the time talking to fellow humans. But Americans, as friendly as they can seem, are usually more guarded. Yet, they will talk to me. There are times when I really do not care, like today, when a customer and his wife found it in their heart to tell me all about the house they used to live in. But, most of the time, I am intrigued by people’s willingness to vent, tell stories or reveal details about themselves. I am intensely curious and maybe my curiosity shows. What I have learnt through endless conversations is the following:

1. Whether we have a PhD in Philosophy or ended our educational career in 4th grade, we are all the same. The only difference might be in how we express our emotions.

2. People need human contact, even if it comes in the form of talking to a stranger. And it takes so little of our time to  listen to the old lady’s dinner plans at the grocery store. I will have forgotten all about it in 2 minutes but she will be all warmed up by my interest (feigned or real)

3. People like to brag, especially if fact checking is not an option. I don’t mind, if it helps with their self-esteem.

4. It’s often said that it’s easier to reveal difficult conundrums to strangers because of their lack of judgement. I think it’s more a case of not wanting to be called on our bullshit, like a close friend, with most facts at hand, would.

5. Every single person has an interesting story, an unexpected life or a detail that will make your jaw drop. All you need is a little bit of digging.

Come to think of it, blogging is the ultimate form of talking to strangers, with the added advantage of being able to tune out with just one click. So, what does it make me in this equation?








Filed under blogging


Stefan, of Stefan’s Gourmet Blog , nominated me for a Liebster Award. First of all, thank you so much Stefan!

Now, before I move on to explain the Liebster Award and nominate my personal faves, a word about Stefan – he is Dutch, lives near Amsterdam, is not a professional chef but has a (true) passion for food, for cooking and, in particular, Italian food.

Since he happened to land on my blog, I have been addicted to finding out what he is toying with. His recipes are easy to follow and well presented, with clear photographs and instructions. But what has struck me is his knowledge of Italian cuisine – obscure dishes perfectly executed and a wealth of knowledge.

And now, without any further ado, let’s go back to the Award.

“The rules are that the winners have to pay forward to other people whose sites are worth of recognition. If they accept the award, they should: thank the person who nominated them; nominate five other favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers, and copy/paste the Liebster Blog Icon into their post”.

And now [drum roll], here are my nominees:

The Ugly Moose –  Because this surrealist Englishman makes me laugh

In Other Words  – Because Emma makes me laugh

Truth and Cake – Because Rian writes beautifully

Live Simply, Travel Lightly..  Because Elena comes across as a woman with a big heart

Fast Approaching 50 Because it was Gingergirl who inspired me to start a blog. And much more.



Filed under blogging


It’s easy to lose oneself in the worldwide web and I am not immune to wandering from one page to the next, lost in a bottomless hole, until my “other” life feels the need to put healthy brakes when I have slid too far.

I started blogging as a personal and selfish endeavour of sort, a way of connecting with people I know without having to resort to the silliness and too much information of Facebook and to see if I could develop the habit of writing between 500 and 700 words a day. Blogging has also been therapeutic at times – while managing a full-time job and a typical North American life with multiple calendars and household chores, even on those nights when the bed is even more appealing than a cup of tea or a cuddle with Ottie, I always look forward to sitting at my laptop and let the thoughts (or the indecipherable topics list on my desk) take me where they may.

From a personal experiment, blogging has morphed into feeling part of a community of people who write for a myriad of reasons, the main, I suspect, being a need to achieve a feeling of connectedness. It has also become a forum where people exchange information and opinions and I value every single person who subscribes, follows, likes or just stumbles upon these pages while looking for information on Italian women (still the most read blogs of all – go figure).

Instead of watching tv, I often scour WordPress for other blogs or explore the ones that have taken the time to visit me, and I have come across all sorts of offerings from all over the world, some in halting English, some uproariously funny, some that left me scratching my head. But I withhold judgment most of the time or as in so far as I am able to. I have my favourite list of blogs I follow, a few on my blogroll, but I thought I would share three with you that give me a lot of pleasure. I didn’t set out to find a thread among them but, when I stopped to think about it, they are all funny in their own way. I am drawn to funny, the more caustic and acerbic it is, the more I am drawn to it.

Here we go: Disclaimer – my best friend writes this so, yes, I am biassed. She also happens to be one of the smartest and funniest women I know and it’s a pity she doesn’t blog more often. Whatever gets her going, she will rage on and she will be very funny doing it. The blog started as an exploration of the process of turning 50 – now that the milestone has been reached (and life has gone on) the blog continues as an experiment in gratitude and venting. Gotta love the title. This man (I believe British but transplanted in the US) writes modern-day fables with irritating endings, some double entendres, a huge amount of caustic and acerbic humor (he is a Brit after all) that get me laughing each time. I also admire his restraint – some of the material would lend itself to much coarser (and thus not as funny) humour. I just got to this one. Emma visited my blog, left a comment and, when I reciprocated, I discovered a 60ish year old woman with an elegant blog, filled with her thoughts, her very funny musings and, above all, a leading  example of how graceful and fun and full life can be past the dreaded middle age.

Happy reading…


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Filed under blogging, writing