What do you remember most about your favorite travel experiences? I'm betting it's the fabulous people you've met and the tasty treats you ate. The smell of sweet tomatoes simmering on the stove, the musty scent of a wine cave, the buttery crunch of your first croissant or the crack of burnt sugar on creme brulee: All of these food memories have the power to take you directly back to that place where you first experienced them. The food of a place helps us learn about the people, their traditions, how they live(d), and the land itself. And by sharing a meal with someone from your travels, especially one that you've cooked together, you immediately and eternally are bound to one another in the memory of the dish. For me the food of a place, its history and its traditions, preparing a meal and breaking bread together with those you meet along the way, and the tales you create together through food are the reasons I travel and why I share these tasty tales and recipes. These are my tips to help you experience Italy and France through their food.
I received formal training as a chef in both pastry and savory arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. From there I've worked in patisseries, pastry kitchens and cooking schools in Paris, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Southern France and Italy. I've cooked with other chefs, wine & cheese makers, food purveyors and even a few famous Italian mammas throughout my culinary travels. I now lead culinary journeys and offer cooking classes in both Italy and France.
Although I received my formal training as an adult, I've been cooking since before I was 8 years old. It started in my mom's Italian-American kitchen. The first food memories I have are of making chocolate chip cookies, watching my grandmother roll pasta dough out the length of a table, and gazing from a kitchen stool as my mom worked magic with flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Even back then, I would constantly change recipes until I got them to taste exactly how I wanted. At that time, this meant adding my favorite food, chocolate, to everything and taking out walnuts. My mom indulged me except when I wanted to add chocolate to the ravioli and take the walnuts out of rocky road.
Cooking, and especially baking, have always been my passions. I would gawk at pastry shop windows like most other girls do outside Tiffany's. I was dazed and amazed at those edible jewels in the window, and always wanted to be the one to create them.
After a few years as an English teacher, I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and received a "Grande Diplome" in both savory cooking and pastry arts. I chose Le Cordon Bleu Paris because I was head over heels in love with the city and its patisseries. I interned at a patisserie in Paris (yelled at daily in French by my chef). After Paris, I returned to California and worked in the pastry department at Julia's Kitchen in Napa and as a culinary instructor for COPIA and as a private chef and private culinary instructor.
I love Italy and France. You could say, I grew up in an Italian kitchen but trained in a French one. Both countries and cuisines have a lot of similarities (neither will admit to it), but also a lot of differences.
I still have family in Italy, and have traveled extensively throughout the "boot" and Sicily over the last 15 years. I lived in Paris for almost 2 years while attending Cordon Bleu and while completing my internship. I've continued to travel to both countries every year and have spent months at a time in professional kitchens and Italian mammas' kitchen learning the traditions of each country's cuisine.
Getting Around This Site ~
On this site, I've created a Recipe Archive, where you can find all the recipes I've posted here. There's also a Food & Travel Posts Archive where you'll find a list of all other food & travel posts, except for the Italy on a Plate series (which has it's own page). To see which posts others like most, I've compiled a Most Popular & My Favorite Posts page. There is an RSS Feed or you can subscribe via email notifications to be notified whenever I post something new.
If any of my culinary or general travel tips have been helpful, if you've used and enjoyed recipes on this site, or if you just want to help support Food Lover's Odyssey, donations via Pay Pal are much appreciated.
Social networking is a huge part of both blogging and meeting (albeit virtually) great and knowledgeable people in France & Italy. You can find me on almost every social networking site. On the Food Lover's Odyssey FACEBOOK page, I share all stuff I like (not only food-related) about Italy and France. There, I also post daily photos from my Italy & France photo collection of 15,000 photos. On TWITTER, I chat food & travel with my tweeps, share new blog post notificiations, and add a few snippets from my daily life. I've joined the PINTEREST craze pinning photos of all things I like to look at. On STUMBLEUPON I bookmark a lot of food & travel favorites from all around the world. I'm still figuring out how to use GOOGLE+. And if you'd like to sift through my unorganized FLICKR sets (I'm working on making them more gawker friendly), you're welcome to visit me there, too.
My Writing Elsewhere, Kudos and Acknowledgements:
I'm a contributing writer for the following online sites and publications:
Places Food Lover's Odyssey has been honored, featured, or mentioned:
Mignon Potenza - 5 Best Italy-Based Food and Wine Blogs
Condé Naste Traveler on Concierge.com - The Perrin Post
Holiday Rental UK - Grantourismo September Competition Winning Entries
Grantourismo Blog - Travel Blogging Competition September Winners
She Who Blogs - Winner of Three Signs O' Fall Photo Contest
Food News Journal - Best of the Blogs
Why Go Italy - Italy Travel News
NileGuide Rome - Rome Local Flavor - Roman Gelaterie
Le Petit France Blog - Seventeen Ideas for an Afternoon in Paris
The Kitchn - Delicious Links
The Circumference: Inspired Travel - Learn the Art of French Cuisine in Paris France
Open Table Blog - Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 7: War of the Roses Leads to Demise of Team Diva
Wandering Italy Blog - Rome in Black and White with Anthony Bourdain
Sew, Mama, Sew! - Christmas Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Adventurers
Find my food photos on these sites:
Tastespotting - Gallery of Food Lover's Odyssey's photos featured on TasteSpotting
Foodgawker - Gallery of Food Lover's Odyssey's photos featured on Foodgawker
DessertStalking - Gallery of Food Lover's Odyssey's photos featured on DessertStalking
Photograzing - Gallery of Food Lover's Odyssey's photos featured on Photograzing
Personal Chef and Culinary Instruction:If you're interested in traveling and cooking with me, I would love to meet you on a Food Lover's Culinary Journey's to Puglia or at one of my cooking classes, food tours or French-pastry vacation in Provence.
If you're interested in my personal chef services and/or private cooking classes in Italy, France or the United States (only during the winter months in the U.S.), please contact me at chefkathyayer [at] yahoo.com