Category Archives: Reviews & Opinion

Cook like a Ve-ne-tian: Settemari’s “The Venetian Fork”

“Se i voga come che i magna i riva sempre primi.” If they rowed like they ate, they’d always come in first.

This phrase is off the back cover of the hot-off-the-San Marco Press’s “Forchette Veneziane, A Venetian Cookbook” compiled and produced by members of the Settemari (Seven Seas) rowing club and cultural association. This club has the voga (Venetian rowing) at its heart, but always has a plethora of cultural initiatives in the works, from theatre productions, to Burano lace courses, to the Venetian of the Year award that they created over 30 years ago.

The latest is a charming cookbook, a compilation of recipes from Settemari members, both Venice-born and long-time local foresti da chissà dove, foreigners from who knows where.

This authentic collection, rather than choosing to be in one language or another, is in both (or  more precisely, all three): English on the left side, Italian (or Venetian) on the right. Works perfectly whether you’re attempting to learn one or the other (or the other) of them — or resigned to only one.

The recipes, instead of trying to be necessarily representative or dogmatically Venetian, are instead what people cook nowadays, and have for decades, for themselves and to share — which in Settemari’s case, is quite often. Did you know duck was a big part of Venetian cuisine? (You would if you thought about it for a bit, given that they’ve been quacking about the lagoon since before there was a Venice.) Try the Anatra Ripiena, a Redentore option when duck is a must-serve. Of course capesante, but Antonella M has included “Scallops with Cardoons,” adapted from a meal she ate at “a prestigious restaurant in Torcello” some time back. There’s Cus-cus di Barena, which requires neither cooking nor much space (read: boat). Pasta e fagioli yes, but for a hundred people (post regatta), with the advice that “the colder it is outside, the more people like it.” You find classics like the perfect Risi e Bisi (rice and peas), and others, that to be true to the recipe you may have to move here: “Artichokes and Friend Chicken” call for “60 castraure (first pruned) artichokes from Mazzorbo…

The Venetian Fork is €10, and you can purchase it here in almost any bookstore around town; it’s available now at the San Marco Press UK online sh0p (for US shipping as well), and seems to be available for international shipping from Shipping from will likely commence once they’re stocked.

Forchette Veneziane – Le ricette “casalinghe” della Settemari
A Venetian Cookbook – Recipes from the “Settemari” Club

San Marco Press
128 pages
ISBN: 978-0956782618


City-pick series settles on Venice


It’s somehow appropriate that a book comprised of select writings on Venice would begin with Jan Morris’ arrival by sea, describing a city that is “very old, and very grand, and bent-backed” whose “towers survey the lagoon in crotchety splendor.”

The editors of city-pick: Venice have succeeded in gleaning a rich variety of well-hewn chronicles, narrations and descriptions as lived by fictional characters, like Inspector Brunetti and Miss Garnet, and real-life residents, whether Venetian by birth like Tiziano Scarpa and Casanova; or by choice, like Henry James or Paolo Barbaro; even those just passing through, like Simone de Beauvoir and her companion Jean-Paul Sartre.

The editor’s picks span countries (Brodsky, Goethe, Twain), centuries (Dickens, Mann), and genres (mystery to travel). Some of the authors are world famous, like D.H. Lawrence; some decidedly less so. There are even a few surprising appearances like Judith Martin (better known as Miss Manners), and writings reach from the present day to centuries past even though Dickens recount hardly seems dated.

City-pick: Venice might just as well be called “author pick;” but whether you choose it as a Venice warm-up, or only as a sampler to direct you to preferred authors’ more ample works, it’s a worthy and rewarding read.

city-pick: Venice

Published by Oxygen Books,
Edited by Heather Reyes
Pub date: Dec 2 2010
ISBN: 978 0 955 9700 8 5
£8.99 – $8.88

Other city-pick cities include Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, London, and Paris.

For what could be a complete list of books and readings on Venice, see Jeff Cotton’s – he also wrote the Venice introduction.