Archive for the ‘Human Interest’ Category

Saving Italy’s White Gold

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

White truffles are a rare and expensive delicacy mostly found in Italy, especially in the north-western region of Piedmont, renowned for its wines and hazelnuts.

They fetch around 300-450 euros per 100 grams. One reason the price is so high is because these ‘white gold’ mushrooms are becoming increasingly rare. Over the past 25 years, there has been a 30 percent decrease in truffle supply, and in some places, truffles have disappeared altogether. But conservationists are determined to save the truffle.

(first broadcast on Living Planet, Deutsche Welle Radio, 24th November, 2016)

English Soup – Italy’s answer to trifle?

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Zuppa Inglese. English Soup. It’s my least favourite Italian dessert, reminiscent of a British one that’s never done it for me either: trifle.

It’s made with vanilla custard cream flavoured with a hint of lemon zest, chocolate custard cream, and sponge cake or sponge finger biscuits dipped in a peculiar, bright red liqueur.

I’ve been delving into the mysteries of Zuppa Inglese: its history, its name and its (to me, inexplicable) lasting popularity.

I began by talking to Massimo Bottura, the author of Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, at his 3 Michelin star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena.

First broadcast on The Food Programme, BBC Radio 4, 20th December 2015

Via Fondazza – the world’s first Social Street

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Although there are exceptions, in modern European society we tend to live more and more isolated from those around us. How many of us know our neighbours well enough to invite them round for meals or ask them for a favour?

In the north Italian city of Bologna, a young couple felt this was such a pity that they decided they’d try to get to know their neighbours through a simple project they called Social Street. In September 2013, they set up a Facebook group called ‘Residents in Via Fondazza – Bologna’. The response was overwhelming and the model they created has gained international attention and popularity.

The Social Street project has won a national award and been endorsed by eminent sociologists and anthropologists, such as Professors Anthony Giddens, Richard Sennett and Marc Augé. It’s even been included in the European Commission’s Social Innovation Europe directory.

So how has life changed for Via Fondazza’s population? I went down there to find out.

(first broadcast on World in Progress, Deutsche Welle Radio, 8th July, 2015)