Have you met Katherine Martinelli of the blog of the same name? Chances are that you have as she is an internationally published food and travel writer and a darned fine cook.
Katherine started life in New York and by the time she was in high school she envisioned herself working for the UN or an NGO. To that end she went to university and got a masters in international education development. That degree led her to a stint teaching high school in Harlem and the South Bronx (both pretty tough gigs I would suspect).
After a few years of teaching social studies she became disillusioned with the school system and began to do some soul searching regarding her career.
To ease the stress she was under she began KatherineMartinelli.com for fun and found that working on it, whether she was doing the cooking, photography or blogging, this was the happiest part of her day. (Every food writer understands this, I’m sure.) She’d always loved food and cooking but until that point had never considered making food media her life’s work.
She read Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food and was inspired but realized that she was a career changer with no relevant experience. She applied for every unpaid internship she could find and landed an editorial internship at a magazine geared towards culinary professionals. She had to work nights as a coat check girl as well as hostess at a NY restaurant to pay the bills but says she was incredibly happy professionally.
Her internship turned into a full time job and she began traveling the country with the editor-in-chief of the magazine, scouting up-and-coming culinary and beverage talent. She used that time wisely and honed her photography and writing skills about her experiences on the road. What a dream job for a food writer.
At some point (apparently I didn’t ask the right questions!) Katherine fell in love and got married and everything was going according to plan until her husband, also a career changer, (definitely a trend in this family) got accepted into medical school in Israel. These two young people tossed everything aside and headed half a world away for him to attend medical school. That’s when Katherine started her freelance career and perfected her blog.
When asked where she learned how to cook, she told me she learned it from her father. How cool is that? Most of us, me included, would say we watched our mother cook the family meal but in Katherine’s house, her dad cooked dinner every night. She couldn’t wait to get into her own kitchen and pursue her love of cooking and practice what her dad taught her.
I asked Katherine a few questions and there were a few surprises but only a few because what you see with Katherine is what you get. No pretense.
When asked what food she really loves but only learned to eat as an adult, she said that as a kid she was a really picky eater and didn’t eat any fish and not much cheese. Now she’s a seafood and cheese fiend. Working at the culinary magazine opened her mind and her palate. She will tell you with confidence that she has eaten and enjoyed nearly (note the nearly) every part of the pig from trotters to ears. Now of course we want to know what part of the pig the “nearly every part” didn’t cover.
If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all, you know how important food memories are to me. I think they are crucial to what makes us who we are. Imagine if we couldn’t relate a smell to a wonderful memory? I asked Katherine about her food memories and I love her reply. (Of course I love it; she agrees with me.)
This is one of my favorite topics! I am very sensitive to smells and find that it’s one of the strongest triggers for memories. The smell of garlic sautéing in oil always brings me back to my father’s kitchen. Rosemary potatoes and roasting chicken without fail transports me to my great aunt Rose’s house. Curry leaves whisk me back to India, where I studied abroad in college.
My father cooked mostly Italian food growing up, so that is without a doubt what I would consider my ultimate comfort food. In particular, there is a cookbook that is very special in my family. It’s called The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria lo Pinto from 1950. It was my grandmother’s favorite cookbook, which she passed down to my father. He always cooked from the battered copy and said that he liked to read it like a novel. My aunt found a copy and gave it to me on my wedding day, and I think now almost everyone in my family has one. The recipe below for spaghetti and meatballs is from it and is a favorite of mine.
Finally, since she’s had her work published on three continents I felt that she was in a good position to tell us how she sees food writing on the Internet evolving.
With the explosion of food media in every direction, food writing is everywhere. In many ways this is an incredible thing. It democratizes food writing by taking some of the power away from the top food critics who used to rule and putting it in the hands of everyday people. I also think it’s raising the bar of what people eat in their homes, and raises awareness about things like healthy eating and vegetarian and gluten free diets. On the other hand, people are so desperate to get content up that a lot of it is sloppy. I can’t tell you how many blogs I read that are riddled with poor grammar, misspellings, and plain bad writing. My favorite blogs are those that not only have wonderful recipes and photos, but also contain good writing. I try to be mindful of this in my own posts as well.
Polpette (Italian Meatballs)
- 3 slices stale bread
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 to 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Soak bread in water 5 minutes; squeeze dry.
- Mix thoroughly with meat, grated Romano cheese, garlic, and parsley.
- Add the eggs a little at a time until the texture is right (very moist, but not too wet).
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Shape into balls about the size of a small egg; roll in flour.
- Fry in hot oil 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve very hot with vegetables and salad. May also be served with spaghetti and plain tomato sauce.
If you haven’t checked out some of Katherine’s recipes, how does red beet and barley risotto sound? It’s one of my favorite recipes from her blog at KatherineMartinelli.com. No, wait. Chocolate peanut butter cookies, that’s my favorite since I’ve been craving American food all week. ORrrrr, it could also be Mediterranean pasta with pine nuts and feta. See what I mean? Really good food cooked by a really lovely woman.
I urge you to visit her blog, enjoy her photography and her recipes and if you’re on twitter and not following @MartinelliEats consider doing just that. You’ll find her friendly, helpful and a lot of fun.