episode 66 :: that’s italian!

If you ask any Italian, there are two kinds of people – Italians, and those who wish they were Italian. I’m here to debunk that theory. I grew up Sicilian-American, and I’ll be the first to tell you it was no bloody picnic. Sure, it feels warm and the food is fantastic. But you have get the knife out of your back before you can eat.

It’s not all bad, though. There are the constant questions about whether or not members of your family were in the mafia, and whether your Grandparents were actually from Italy, or the other part of the boot – Sicily. Should it be the latter, then may God be with you . . . and me, for that matter.

Listen to Episode 66 now

In this episode:
• Growing up in a third-generation Sicilian-American household
• Francis Ford Coppola’s public apology for The Godfather
• GAME TIME: “Name that Goomba Movie!”
• Birra Moretti La Rossa Dopplebock – surprisingly good
• Making Saltimboca
• It’s Oyster season, and time for a new Thanksgiving tradition
• Mafia Crime Drama novel or Penthouse Forum? (NSFW, home, or the car)
• Tips for pairing food & whiskey
• Brewmasters with Sam Calagione, Sundays on Discovery
• Eataly – Mario Batali’s new Italian mini-mall
Eat My Blog, December 4th – Be there!

Music in this episode by Saliva. Buy their music from their web site or from the iTunes Store.


  1. Fun show, and great to see you back Phil. It’s not just the Godfather that had the Italian/American community in a big huff. Programs like The Sopranos and Jersey Shore have pissed off every single Italian living in New Jersey.

    The Saltimboca sounds delicious. I’ve never seen that on any Italian restaurants menu before, but it certainly sounds like it should be.

    I emailed my answers to the GOOMBA quiz to you. Hope I got them all right.

    • Thanks DV. I never understood why anyone (especially my own mother) was so in love with the Godfather story. It wasn’t until we attended a funeral for my uncle, when we noticed some suspicious looking people sat near the back, and they played the theme from the Godfather because it was “one of his favorite stanzas.” Seriously – the love theme to the Godfather at his funeral. I nearly hit the roof.

      Thanks for your email. You were OH SO CLOSE!

  2. Love the show image. The Godfather is maybe my favorite movie of all time. It is strange that so many people glamorize crime drama figures like the Corleone family, but that’s how it’s been in this country for decades.

    Have to say that I do really like the idea of eating oysters and champagne to start my day, whether it’s on a holiday or otherwise. Wish I had friends who would show up with 2 dozen oysters and a couple of bottles of champagne!

    I read about Eataly on Serious Eats over a month ago and it sounded like a crazy adventure in Italian shopping. We have quite a few Italian markets in our area here, but nothing like that.

    Love listening to your show, Phil. Glad you’re back with new shows. Look forward to next one.

    • Thanks G – this was fun for me. There are a bunch of topics and ideas I’ve been wanting to hit on for years. This was one, so I’m glad to knock them out.

      We have small Italian delis here. Nothing like Eataly. It gives me one more reason to fly to NYC to visit my sister.

  3. The only thing that bugs me is when people make comments about the reason why I love beer is because I’m German. I’m actually more Polish than anything. No one in my family was a Nazi (i did have military family though in Poland) but I did find a Nazi bayonet in my basement 🙂

    We had a bottle of Super Baladin which is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from Italy on EP68 of SIDT – http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1675/4774 It was soooooooooooooo good! If you can’t get some I’ll see if they have any left in Ohio

    I’m someone who drowns pasta in sauce but I attribute that to not having any Italians in the family and Olive Garden. When I eat there the more Alfredo the better.

    Brewmasters is a FANTASTIC series! I’m absolutely in love with it. I was worried it would be an hour long commercial for DFH and glad to say its not. Discovery’s flare of using sweet animation make the brewing process very easy to understand.

    • Thanks for listening Spoon! I remember you telling me about that bayonet. I have the gun that fits it! It’s a beast of a gun too.

      The whole over-saucing pasta just irritates me. I don’t know why people would do that. If you taste really good pasta with nothing but olive oil and cheese it really shows you just how good pasta can be, and why it should be treated like the focus of the plate. And it will also explain why eating meat with it is dumb. It’s like you’re challenging the pasta to stand up to another main course. It’s like having a steak with a a side of pork chops.

      Not only do I love Brewmasters because it’s DFH and I really dig their product, it’s turning into one of Katrina’s favorite shows too. I just wish they’d stop moving it around the schedule. Now it’s on Mondays against Monday Night Football. Yeah, that’s good programming.

  4. Loved the show as always. Cool idea to do an I-talian themed show. Great to hear your family stories, from your childhood – I love that kind of stuff. Did you know that saltimbocca means ‘jumps in the mouth’? (You probably do!) I love that dish. Nice coverage of Eatlay. Can’t wait to get back to NYC to see it. Buon appetito!

    • Appreciate you taking the time to comment, Charles. In fact I DID know that Saltimbocca means ‘Jump in the mouth’ but after the whole Dude Food Sausage Party thing, I thought I’d give the dick jokes a rest. 🙂 You might be one of the only people I know who knows what that dish is. It’s almost like a midway point between Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Marsala.

      Thanks again, dude.

  5. Great show, Phil. I think I got all of those right. Sent you an email. Let me know.

    It was nice to hear you talk about pairing whiskey with food. For a few years now some friends and I have been getting together and doing Scotch and Cheese nights, a few interesting Whiskies and Interesting Cheeses. Since eating just Cheese can be a bit binding we tend to add a few more things to the menu.

    For me Blue Cheese and other really strong flavours like garlic stuffed olives go with Lagavoulin and Laphroig, though I can see it with very sherried whiskies like Aberlour A’bunadh, Highland Park or the traditional Macallan as well. A really sharp blue like Papillion Noir is needed to hold its own against an Ardbeg.

    • Thanks Leitch. I got your email and you did very well. You only missed one, and that’s commendable. I’ve received 6 other emails and no one has gotten them all right. There’s no prize for this, it’s just for fun. But thanks for playing along.

      Damn. You’re really into this scotch/food pairing thing. Thanks for sharing all of that. I rarely drink when I eat, but this has me intrigued. I’d start with something solid – like a steak, then go from there. Thanks for your tips!

  6. Oysters on Thanksgiving is actually traditional. The Pilgrims ate, for their first Thanksgiving meal, clams, oysters, venison, geese, ducks, turkey, various maize products, various pumpkin products, and various other foods indigenous to the area.
    So your friend was right on. I hate Turkey anyway.

    Loved hearing you back, Phil. Keep going.

    • Michelle, you guys all continue to amaze me with how much you know. I learn from you constantly. I’m sure their traditional meal was nothing like it was today. However, I do know one thing – even back then, when the Lions played on Thanksgiving, they sucked then too.

      Thanks for your comments, and for your continued support of the podcast.

  7. Awesome episode, and I’m seriously considering starting a, “eat oysters and drink bubbly thanksgiving morning” tradition myself.

    • Me too, Ryan! That sounds like the perfect start to any lazy day. I may not even wait for Thanksgiving to be honest!

  8. Great show, Phil. Thanks for taking the time to share your talents with us.

    Love me some Italian food. Always want to learn more about the cultures of different cuisines. I have a client whose primary life goal is to be able to quit her corporate job and go to Italy and write in cafes. That sounds like a great plan.

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