Maureen B. Fant

discovering Italy through its food

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Italian Food Explained

Thank you for coming. This site is supposedly about my writing, which is mostly about Roman food, but also such other topics as ancient women, Italy in general, and various other kinds of food. I also translate from Italian, edit, teach, and consult.

You can e-mail me a comment on restaurants, old or new. But bear in mind that I can't offer recommendations for individual needs. If you'd like to hire me to do some restaurant research for you or make reservations (using your name, not mine), send me an e-mail by clicking on the link on this page.

In the left-hand column you'll find links to the sites of some of my clever friends and other sites I like (suggestions for links are welcome), and in the right-hand column links to my work. There are also links to my Amazon Stores, which in turn contain links to my books and books by my friends, acquaintances, and others I like and—taking advantage of Amazon's new leave-no-product-unsold direction—also gourmet products and cookware, especially those you'll need for the recipes in Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds and Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way.

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Eat like the Romans. Cook like the Romans. Cook with me.

My friends tried for years to get me to do Roman food tours. And one's friends know best. As it turns out, I love meeting visitors who want to know more about Roman food.

They join my life for part of a day, and in a few hours I try to teach them everything it took me more than twenty years to learn the hard way. We go to the Testaccio quarter, to the market and the Volpetti shop, where I've been going all these years (since way before it became fashionable), then take the bus back home to cook lunch in my apartment kitchen. I never plan a menu. Instead, I always hope people will find things at the market they've never tasted, or even seen, and will be curious enough to want to try them. I just steer, since I know what's in season and what can be accomplished in the time available.

The "lesson" that follows the shopping is thus an improvisational tour de force, not so much a class as a bunch of friends rolling up their sleeves and getting lunch together. But with me bossing everybody around. This makes for an intense encounter, during the course of which I berate them for mispronouncing bruschetta (it's broosketta, puh-leez), using a knife on their spaghetti (yes, some people still try), and finishing their frittata under the broiler (anybody heard of global warming?). We also have a lot of laughs, especially if we decide to try to cut artichokes Roman style. Over lunch, at our properly set dining table, we talk about how to choose a pasta and an olive oil and when to use balsamic vinegar and other topics of importance to eaters of Italian food. We also talk about Italian table manners and where to eat in Rome and can even make reservations. Sometimes Franco joins us for lunch.

I offer this intimate gastronomic adventure for one to six people. Traveling companions are welcome to drop in for lunch or a glass of wine as long as they stay out of the kitchen. If you're interested, send me an e-mail and I'll give you the dope.

I can also offer private tutorials in Roman food ways (i.e., all theory, not cooking and eating, maybe a little drinking, though), classes/​lectures in ancient and/​or modern Roman food for students or other groups, and specific tours/​tutorials for food professionals. If you tell me your needs or wants, I'll propose a program for you.

Here’s a link to an account of two sisters’ day cooking with me.

or contact Jim Zurer at Zurer Travel.

Selected Works

Pasta is so universally popular in the United States that it can justifiably be called an American food. This book makes the case for keeping it Italian with recipes for sauces and soups as cooked in Italian homes today. There are authentic versions of such favorites as carbonara, bolognese, marinara, and Alfredo, as well as plenty of unusual but no less traditional sauces, based on roasts, ribs, rabbit, clams, eggplant, arugula, and mushrooms, to name but a few.
Food culture and recipes with fabulous photos
A personal guide to traditional eating and drinking in three cities
A to Z Italian-English lexicon of food terminology
The Classical World
A source book on ancient women
By Oretta Zanini De Vita