NEW YORK – The Italian American Museum Little Italy hosted “ Taste of Sicily – Healthy Eating Italian Style,” on August 7 featuring a presentation by Fiorella DiCarlo on both the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and the flavors and many other delights of Sicily.
New Yorkers of Greek and Italian extraction know the phrase “una faccia una razza – one face one race.” When they see each other, they first wonder if they are related. Even when they realize the other can’t converse in their parent’s tongue, within five minutes they are impressed with the values and passions they have in common.
When Greeks see pictures of Sicily, they notice the Greek temples of Agrigento and the Byzantine mosaics of Cefalu, Moreale and Palermo, but the conversation heats up when it comes to food.
Common experiences right out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding include having to explain to classmates what is in their lunchbox. There are Greeks and Italians who stay away from things like tripe, but they are misunderstood minorities.
DiCarlo was delighted to note to TNH that her great grandmother was Greek with roots in Athens. “I was named after her. I am called Fiorella but really my name is Aphroditi.”
“There are no chefs in my family,” but, again like the Greeks, “they all like to think that they are.”
“I love to work with fillo dough and made a lot of baklava around the holidays and spanakopitas. They are intricate to make but taste great.”
Born in Naples, DiCarlo is a Registered Dietitian. She also has a psyschoanalytic background and most of her practice is dedicated to eating disorders.
She is the founder of a food blog called FiorellaEats dedicated to exploring the Italian cuisine, culture and traditions.
With the passage of centuries since Venetian rule in Greece and Greek domination in Southern Italy, the cuisines have evolved but “The flavor profiles are similar,” she said. The centuries of influence made a permanent impact.
DiCarlo emphasized that one of the important elements of the Mediterranean diet is the moderation that does not get translated into American versions. “Pasta dishes in Italy have lighter and fresher sauces and the quantities are smaller,” she said, adding that meals include fruits, vegetables and nuts, “and you are not having pasta every minute.”
Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, the President and CEO of the Museum who introduced DiCarlo, told TNH he has many Greek friends and would like to explore presenting joint events.
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