You can’t put the shit back in the cow: a note on racism in Italy and in Italian wine today

benetton handcuffs ad

Above: an image from Oliviero Toscani’s 1989 United Colors of Benetton campaign (via the Benetton corporate website).

Responding to an Italian-Swiss reader of his weekly column in Tempo in 1969, Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote on “unconscious class hatred”:

    Racism [directed toward jailed Italians] is unconscious class hatred.

    Compare it to American racism, which, until now and even today, has been unconscious class hatred.

    But from the moment that negroes began to combat it and to become self-aware as an impoverished class, the obscure and indecipherable racial hatred directed toward them has become clear-cut, easy-to-decipher class hatred.

    It is the same type of hatred that an Italian bourgeois feels for a communist but not for “lazy southerner” or a jailed countryman.

(The article was republished posthumously in Il Caos [Chaos], Mondadori, 1979. You can read it in its entirety here. Translation mine.)

I selected this famous quote for my post today because of its reference to racism in the U.S. in the late 1960s.

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“The biggest human effect on terroir is ego”: tasting outside my tribe @PasternakWine

beauvenir nerthe

Above: all of the wines in the Pasternak Prestige Portfolio tasting yesterday in Chicago were spectacular. But La Nerthe’s 2009 Clos de Beauvenir is the one I can’t stop thinking about today. A rich blend of Roussanne and Clairette, the wine showed nuanced but intensely focused layers of dried and fresh stone fruit. What a wine!

At last week’s Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta, my friend Adam Japko delivered a brilliant talk on “moving outside of your tribe.”

When interacting solely within your own tribe, Adam explained, you don’t push yourself toward a new awareness of your potential.

And so, when the marketing team at Pasternak Wines asked me to come up to Chicago to do some live social media from their Prestige Portfolio tasting, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to gaze beyond my comfort zone.

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Ceci n’est pas une hot-dog: heading to Chicago to taste @PasternakWine

hot doug

Above: a scene from my second-favorite hotdog joint in the world, Hot Doug’s. I won’t be able to get over there tomorrow while in Chicago for the day, but you can bet I’ll be eating my share of Chicago dogs!

On a flight today to Chicago, where I’ll be attending the Pasternak Prestige Portfolio tasting: the nice folks at Pasternak asked me to come up and give them a hand with social media for the event.

I’m always geeked to visit Chicago, the city where I was born and one of the most fun food destinations in the U.S.

Tonight, I’ll do some wine bar-hopping and I’ll catch with some of the awesome wine pros up there. Thursday, I’ll report back.

Thanks for tuning in and see you on the other side!

Montevertine owner Martino Manetti embroiled in scandal over racist comments

kyenge racist comments

Above: Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first African-Italian minister (a member of the Letta cabinet) was subjected to hate-fueled and racially charged epithets during public appearances and in online public fora last year (image via the Wiki).

I’ll never forget the night that the U.S. and NATO began bombing Kosovo in 1999. I was in Milan and even though the planes were taking off from the U.S. base in Aviano, Friuli, you could hear their engines roar.

My friend Stefano and I took a cab home after dinner and we got into a heated argument with the driver: commenting on news of the strikes, he shared his thoughts that the Albanians in Milan should be rounded up and killed.

When I returned to New York, I told the story to the managing editor of the magazine where I was working. She was the daughter of the Italian publisher of the magazine. A privileged young woman who had grown up in a gilded neighborhood in Milan, she could have walked right out of a frame from a Pasolini film like Teorema or Porcile.

The Albanians should be rounded up and shot, she told me.

Sadly, brutal racism and a tolerance of hate speech are not uncommon in Italian bourgeois society.

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Houston mon amour: why the Bayou City matters enogastronomically (TY @Femme_Foodie)

best vietnamese restaurant houston

Above: Our meal yesterday with leading Houston food writer Mai Pham at Thuan Kieu Com Tam in Houston’s sprawling Asia town. Here’s her most recent post on this wonderful restaurant.

Conference goers were so cordial with me last week at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. But I was surprised by how many of them questioned the wisdom of my family’s recent move from Austin (the River City), Texas, to Houston (the Bayou City).

I shouldn’t be: across the country, my friends and colleagues continue to ask me, how could you leave Austin, “the blue city in the red state” and the current hipster capital of the world (thanks to interactive media, music, and now Formula 1 racing)?

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First kiss: Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 (and a great wine list in Atlanta)

best restaurant atlanta georgia

Nicolas Quinones’ Woodfire Grill in Atlanta really impressed me on Tuesday night, the last night of the Design Bloggers Conference where I gave a talk on social media.

The food was beautiful and thoughtful. I loved how Chef Tyler Williams added artistic flair to each dish, as in the macarons above. And I loved the wholesomeness of his farm-to-table cooking. Georgia is, after all, a farming state, and the quality of the young chef’s materia prima was superb, as was his execution.

2009 produttori barbaresco tasting note

But what I loved the most was Nicolas’ 400-lot list and its aggressive pricing.

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How do you translate “cordone speronato”? (and other challenging Italian wine terms)

british libraryAbove: if I were a rich man, I’d spend my days in the reference/reading room of the British Library in London, one of my favorite places on earth (image via Wiki Commons).

Last week, a client of mine asked me to prepare a shortlist of “challenging” Italian wine terms in translation.

I was unavailable for a consecutive interpreting gig for one of said client’s high-profile clients and so they ended up contracting an interpreter who, however accomplished, didn’t have a lot of experience in wine-trade interpreting.

The following list of terms and translations by no means represents a complete bilingual glossary.

Instead, it’s populated by “challenging” words that are often mistranslated.

Like the Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Project and the Italian Winery Designations Project, I’ll continue to update it: please send me your queries (by leaving a comment)!

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Italian wine tasting for 300+ #dbc2014 TY @AdamJapko

design bloggers conference atlantaAbove: a view from the stage yesterday at the Design Bloggers Conference 2014 in Atlanta where I led a guided tasting for 300+ bloggers.

Social media saved my life.

It’s thanks to social media that I reinvented myself and found a new career as a wine blogger back in 2007 when I was broke, single, and rudderless in New York City.

It’s thanks to social media that I met Tracie P in 2008, fell in love, got married in 2010, and started a family — the greatest experience of my life.

And it’s thanks to social media that I became friends with Adam Japko, one of the most extraordinary, dynamic people I know.

wine tasting atlantaAbove: wine for 300 bloggers!

Adam asked me to speak yesterday about “how to make any story a sharable story” at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta (#dbc2014), a standing-room-only event that he organizes each year.

And so I told the story of how my story became a sharable one and how social media helped me reinvent myself, find the true love of my life, and launch a successful marketing consulting business.

Each of the wines we served at the tasting represented a moment in the arc of my narrative.

jeremy parzenAbove: back in 2007, as my childhood friend Irwin remembers fondly, I told him that I was going to have a career as a wine blogger. “What’s a wine blogger?” he asked me at our favorite taco shack in La Jolla. I could have never imagined where social media was going to take me.

The Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo, aged on its lees and undisgorged, was cloudy and savory with a sharp citrus note. Like me back in 2007, its raw, pure flavor was looking for the right pairing.

The Ka Maciné Rossese from the Ligurian riviera was bright and rich in brilliant, Technicolor red fruit and berry flavor, a wine that you might sip as you gaze into your new lover’s eyes as he/she looks out on the bay at Portofino.

In sharp focus, the Castello di Verduno Pelaverga delivered its classic white pepper note, the spice of a new love, a new life, and a new career, the fulfillment of a peripeteia that began après la guerre.

Thank you, Adam, for being such a great friend and mentor and for letting me tell my story to such a wonderful audience.

And thank you, design bloggers, for all the thoughtful comments and kind words that you’ve shared.

I’m so glad to be here and so happy that social media has brought us together.

All of the wines can be found at Ceri Smith’s Biondivino in San Francisco, one of my favorite wine merchants in the country.

Without the sadness, happiness would not be (hitting the road again @DesignBlogConf‎ #Atlanta)

mommy georgia p

Above: Georgia P and Tracie P shared “butterfly kisses” at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Houston on Saturday. It was so hard to say goodbye to them this morning…

In the months that led up to Lila Jane’s birth last July, I took a long and much-needed break from travel.

Now that she’s seven months old and we’re settled into our new home in Houston, it’s time for me to hit the road again.

I’ll be visiting a different U.S. city every week for the next four weeks. And then I head to Italy for nearly two weeks for the wine trade fairs.

It’s one of the hazards of the job.

Today I’m on way to Atlanta to give a talk at the Design Bloggers Conference, my friend Adam Japko’s yearly social media gathering for interior designers (the fruit of his many years as a publisher of an interior design magazine).

I’ll be pouring some of my favorite wines and talking about how I turned my story in to a brand and a successful marketing and media consulting company (you can read about the wines here).

It’s not easy to leave my family but I’m comforted by the fact that my in-laws will be coming to Houston to visit for the next few days while I’m gone. That’s the main reason we moved to Houston: to be closer to them (they’re now two hours instead of five hours away) and to my Levy cousins who live there.

Maybe because it’s the first time in a long time that I’ll be away from them: the pang of longing is sharp this early morning as I sit in a crowded airport waiting to get on a sold-out flight.

But I know that without the sadness, the happiness would not be…

Thanks for being here and sharing a little bit of that pang with me. See you on the other side…