Have you ever met Katherine Martinelli? Chances are that you have as she is an internationally published food and travel writer and also a darned fine cook.
Katherine originated in New York and by the time she was in high school she envisioned herself working for the UN or a NGO. Keeping her aim in mind she ended up going to the university and with all her hard work she received 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 couple of years of teaching social studies she became disillusioned with the school system and decided to do some soul searching regarding her career.
Her stressed life led her to start up for fun KatherineMartinelli.com and she found that working on it, whether she was doing the cooking, photography or blogging, was turning her days more happy and fulfilling . (Every food writer surely understands this.) She always loved food and cooking, yet she hadn’t considered turning food media into her life’s work.
Katherine read Dianne Jacob’s Book Will Write for Food and she was inspired but realized at the same time that she was a career changer with no relevant previous experience. She applied for every unpaid internship she could find and at the end landed an editorial internship at a magazine geared towards culinary professionals. She had to work at nights as a coat check girl as well as a hostess at a NY restaurant to pay the bills, however she mentioned that she was incredibly happy professionally.
Slowly her internship turned into a full time job and she began traveling the country with the magazine’s editor-in-chief , looking for up-coming culinary and beverage talents. 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, 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 admirable people tossed everything aside and headed half a world away so that he could attend medical school. That’s when Katherine started her freelance career and perfected her blog.
When I asked her where she learned to cook, she told me she learned it from her father. How cool is that? Most of us, including me, would say we watched our mothers prepare the family meal but in Katherine’s house, it is her dad who cooked dinner every night. She couldn’t wait to get into her own kitchen so to pursue her love for cooking and to practice what her dad had taught her.
I asked Katherine a couple of questions and yes there were a few surprises but only a few because what you see with Katherine is what you get. No pretense!
When I asked her what food she really loves, yet which she only learned to indulge as an adult, she said that as a kid she was a very picky eater and she didn’t eat any fish and cheese was off limits. Nowadays she’s a seafood and cheese friend. Working at the culinary magazine helped her to be more open with food 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!
As an Orgasmic Chef reader you will know how important food memories are to me. I think they are crucial and they make us to who we are. Imagine if we couldn’t relate to a smell or to a wonderful memory? I asked Katherine about her food memories and I loved 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 to 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 the book and it is a favorite of mine.
Finally, since she’s had her work published on three continents, I felt that she was in the right position to tell us how she perceives the evolution of food writing on the internet.
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.
You may want to check out some of Katherine’s recipes, such as her red beet and barley risotto. It’s one of my favorite recipes from her blog at KatherineMartinelli.com. No wait, Chocolate peanut butter cookies, is my favorite since I’ve been craving American food all week long. ORrrrr, how about the Mediterranean pasta with pine nuts and feta. See what I mean? Really good food cooked by an extremely lovely woman.
I urge you to visit her blog, enjoy her photography and recipes and if you’re on twitter you can follow her tweets @MartinelliEats. You’ll find her friendly, helpful and she is fun at the same time.