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I recently entered a contest for food writers, which, alas, I did not win. However, because it was fun to write and brought back some good memories, I thought I’d share my essay here. The theme of the required essay was “My Favorite Dish.” Of course, what is favorite often depends on the day and the mood and where you are, but this is what I settled on.


Saltimbocca alla romana. The name really says it all for me; saltimbocca is Italian for “jumps in the mouth.” It certainly seems to jump into my mouth—at least it does in Italy. I generally approach it with some trepidation in restaurants in the United States. While Fettucine Alfredo probably holds the record in this country for versions unrelated to the original, saltimbocca is also among those dishes that frequently fail to match the Italian versions. And yet, I love this dish so dearly, I keep trying—because when it’s right, it is a thing of joy.

I first had saltimbocca the first time I visited Rome. I was just 15 and still traveling with my parents, which was wonderful, as my dad was big on trying everything. Being daddy’s girl, I had been infected early on by his enthusiasm for culinary adventure. In Italy, dad introduced me to calamari, artichokes (carcciofi), and profiteroles. But it was I who discovered saltimbocca. Continue reading


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