Back on campus @UniSG and back in Barbera (debunking the “Louis Oudart” canard)

When professor Michele Fino, director of the master’s programs at the University of Gastronomic Sciences (the Slow Food university in Piedmont, above), asked me to deliver his department’s matricula lecture this term, I couldn’t have been more thrilled or honored.

This morning, I led the first of 12 three-hour seminars for the assembled group of master’s students: “Food writing from Maestro Martino to #MeToo: the arc of Marxist alienation in modern gastronomy.”

Needless to say, the first recipe we discussed was for pizza dough cinnamon rolls.

(Saturday marks the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birthday, btw.)

Teaching is always such a rewarding experience for me and we have an awesome group of genuinely motivated and thoroughly talented philomaths — a very international crowd this year. It’s a drag to be away from home but the students and our rich confabulations really make it worthwhile.

In other news…

My Name Is Barbera, a collaborative blog published by the Barbera d’Asti growers association, shared my most recent post for the group this morning: “When Barbera Saved the (Wine) World.”

The deeper I dig into my research into Barbera and its legacy, the more I realize that we would be (and should be) drinking Barbera today instead of Merlot… that is, had things played out differently. There’s no doubt in my mind: the grape variety was positioned to become the red grape of the world — par excellence.

I’ve discovered compelling evidence of its widespread popularity in the landmark Ampélographie universelle (1841) by Alexandre-Pierre Odart.

The French ampelographer (who existed) shouldn’t be confused with the canard Louis Oudart: despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever, many wine writers — Italian and American — continue to propagate the erroneous nugget that “Oudart” was summoned by Barolo grower Camillo Cavour (the noted Italian statesman and architect of Italy’s unification) because the latter hoped he would teach the Langhetti how to make proper wine.

Will the real Odart please stand up? He was much more interested in Barbera than in Nebbiolo.

Please check out my post: I think you’ll find my discoveries as fascinating as I do (and there’s a bottle of Barbera in it for anyone who can prove me wrong!).

In other other news…

I’m really loving Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2018) by Ramie Targoff. I picked it up to read on the plane and haven’t been able to put it down.

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