Archive for the ‘Arts and Culture’ Category

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

Leonardo: the world’s most famous selfie?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015


In the north Italian city of Turin, a rare exhibition called “Leonardo and the King’s Treasures” features as its main attraction a drawing widely considered to be Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait. It’s seldom on show because displaying it is a risky and costly business.

I was allowed a sneak preview inside the ‘caveau’ – the sealed vault where the red chalk drawing and many other invaluable works are kept.

(first broadcast on Spectrum, Deutsche Welle Radio, 15th December, 2014)

Pride – the real story

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Earlier this year, Pride won the Queer Palm at Cannes film festival. Since then it’s become one of
the most internationally popular feel­good films of 2014. Set in 1984, during the miners’ strike in Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher, it’s been likened to The Full Monty and Billy Elliot for its mix of social realism, pathos and inimitable British humour.

It’s the real­life story of an unlikely friendship which developed between a mining community in the Dulais Valley in South Wales and a London­based gay and lesbian group that raised money to
support them.

In the film, Dominic West plays Jonathan Blake, one of the original members of Lesbians and Gay
Men Support the Miners. The real Jonathan Blake was a special guest at Bologna’s Gender Bender festival when the film made its recent Italian première in Italy. I caught up with him there and found out more about the real life events of 30 years ago and what it was like to relive them on the screen.

(first broadcast on Inside Europe, Deutsche Welle Radio, 4th December, 2014)