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11-16-11: A 2011 Interview with Gianni Mola


"The only way you can learn, I told them, is to watch me cook it."

—Gianni Mola

Sometimes video does not lie. If you watch one of Gianni's videos, you're going to see something pretty unusual — an authentic representation of the man himself, cooking something that is just as easy as it looks, and that tastes better than you might believe. I know, because in a bit of — I admit it, star-struckedness, I went to interview Gianni after having watched him in so many videos.

He lives on the top of the hill in Russian Hill in San Francisco. Parking was perilous, but possible. I lugged my one-man band show stuff upstairs (he's on the third floor) and when he opened the door a heavenly smell of garlic wafted out. He was making the cioppino recipe that he posted later that same day.

I had to check out his Italian tomatoes, a new brand he said, but authentic DOP Italian canned tomatoes, and it makes a big difference. He added then to the garlic roasting in the La Cruset enameled pot he was using. I remarked on the pot, and he told me that there was a Mario Batali equivalent that was supposed to be as good and considerably less expensive. (I'd looked at that same pot once and come away with sticker shock.)

He cooked a bit more while I set up, and then we sat down at his dining table and just started chatting about North Beach. It didn't take me long to realize that I was hearing words I wanted to record, so I turned on the recorder without telling him as he talked about his work restoring a classic North Beach mural. As he wrapped up that anecdote, I told him we were recording and off we went. It was a delightful hour that seemed like five minutes, as we talked about his childhood cooking background — which I think is very important to those of us who actually enjoy cooking — and how he reverse engineers recipes that he likes and remembers. You can hear that unedited conversation about food, family and the importance of talking in the kitchen by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




11-15-11 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read, Episode 18: Karl Marlantes, 'What It Is Like To Go To War'

Here's the eighteenth episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The eighteenth episode is a look at Karl Marlantes and his new book, 'What It Is Like To Go To War.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Episode 18: Time to Read: Karl Marlantes, 'What It Is Like To Go To War.'




11-14-11: A 2001 Interview With Jeff Hertzberg, M. D. and Zoe Francois

Click image for audio link.

"I end up making all sorts of pizzas with this crust."

—Zoe Francois

A good conversation shares a lot with a good meal; they're both best created and shared with others. That's a roundabout way of saying that I've been looking forward to speaking with Jeff Hertzberg, M. D. and Zoe Francois since we spoke about the last book, 'Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.' That's two years of waiting, but the result was worth it. When you have the authors of cookbooks in the studio with you (or you bring your studio to them), you have a unique opportunity to get pointers on the stuff you couldn't quite put together.

That's not a problem with 'Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day,' The recipes are dead easy, so much so that it is easy to go beyond them, which makes the cookbook really fun. As sat in an austere corner room of the Nikko hotel, Jeff and Zoe traded stories, and each talked about their own contributions to the books.

Jeff is the doctor, but he is also, and this is critical, "the guy," and he makes sure that the recipes will appeal to the other guys out there. He has a loose, sort-of dangerous feel when he talks, as if he might suggest something really off the wall. Zoe, the pastry chef, has a more than a hint of science about her, a sense of quiet precision.

Together they tell a great story about bread, baking, pizza, flatbreads and writing a cookbook. You can find their interview by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



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04-21-14: Commentary : Lorrie Moore 'Bark' : Undoing the World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Lorrie Moore : "..when you read really trashy newspapers about people killing each other and all, they're usually in the midst of a divorce."

04-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 157: Lorrie Moore : Bark

04-16-14: Commentary : Michael Katakis Lets Fall 'A Thousand Shards of Glass' : Missives from a Parallel World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michael Katakis : "..we haven't lived up to what people's illusions and dreams are..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 156: Michael Katakis : A Thousand Shards of Glass

04-02-14: Commentary : David Rich Steps in as 'Middle Man' : Spy Novels for the 21st Century

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with David Rich : "...so much is known so quickly..."

04-01-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 155: David Rich : Middle Man

03-29-14: Commentary : Carol Cassella Mirrors 'Gemini' : Two Places at Once

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Carol Cassella : "... we could provide good care for everyone..."

03-26-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2005 Interview with Lucius Shepard : "It's an urban war in Iraq."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 154: Carol Cassella : Gemini

03-20-14: Commentary : Dave Barry Warns 'You Can Date Boys When You're Forty' : Five Star General Humor

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Dave Barry : "...you have the right to demand that they grope your genitals manually..."

03-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 153: Dave Barry : You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

03-17-14: Commentary : Michael Marshall (Smith) Sees 'Bad Things' : Dark of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : Elizabeth Spencer, 'Starting Over: Stories'; James Magnuson, 'Famous Writers I Have Known'; Dasa Drndic 'Trieste'

03-11-14: Commentary : Ian Rankin Ordains 'Saints of the Shadow Bible' : Standing in the Shadow of the Past

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ian Rankin : "...I knew that he would not want to leave the police force..."

03-10-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 152: Ian Rankin : Saints of the Shadow Bible

03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michio Kaku : "But I'm a physicist..."

03-02-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 151: Michio Kaku : The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind

02-25-14: Commentary : Annie Jacobsen Files 'Operation Paperclip' : History as Thrilling Literature

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Annie Jacobsen : "Hitler's top scientists became America's own."

02-23-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2 : "...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen : Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

02-20-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Seeks 'Annihilation' : Creative Destruction

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 1 : "...obviously, something is subverting the landscape..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer : Annihilation

02-14-14: Commentary : Jenny Offill Engages 'Dept. of Speculation' :The Domestic Descent

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jenny Offill : "..where did the rest of me go?"

02-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 148: Jenny Offill : Dept. of Speculation

02-10-14: Commentary : Kelly Corrigan's 'Glitter and Glue' : Remembering Forward

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kelly Corrigan : "You just hope you get to have that whole second act with your children."

02-08-14: Commentary : My Life in the Bush of Books : Life as an Internet Failure Edition

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 147: : Glitter and Glue: A Memoir

02-06-14: Commentary : Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois Bake 'The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' : Cheese, Beer and a Crock Pot

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois : "I knew it wouldn't work."

02-03-14: Commentary : Jane Pauley Hears 'Your Life Calling' : Crossing an Economic Singularity

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jane Pauley : "..it suddenly hit me; I almost cried..."

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