What's Cooking: Traveler Likes to Stick to Italian Roots When It Comes to Cooking

By Eby, Pat | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

What's Cooking: Traveler Likes to Stick to Italian Roots When It Comes to Cooking


Eby, Pat, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


John Martinelli, raised and educated in New York, charted a career path in banking that took him from New York to Los Angeles. He's a dedicated traveler, open to new experiences and locales. His husband, Randy Brown, had worked in the travel business, so it was a logical move when the two men created an online travel business. Suites of the World showcases luxury suites in cities around the world with photos, amenities and detailed information about the facilities.

One of the pleasures of travel for Martinelli is the food, including pastries in Paris, his favorite city, to the more unusual South African meat paste dish he calls ubo, which he has eaten on photo safaris.

Two years ago, Martinelli retired from banking and moved to St. Louis to be near a relative who needed his help. He enjoys cooking and experimenting. Much as he likes French pastries, he says, "I'm no baker, that's for sure, but now have time to take some culinary classes."

Martinelli balances his love for food and cooking with another rediscovered enjoyment, exercise. He works part time at a city YMCA. "I got back into weight lifting, walk two brisk miles each day around the track, and swim a quarter mile and I lost 40 pounds." His co-workers nominated him for What's Cooking because he brings wonderful dishes to the staff potluck meals.

What's your go-to cooking style? Italian food. That's my background. You can't get too far away from your roots. I watched my stepmother make a sausage and green pepper dish growing up. I added red and yellow peppers for color and liveliness. I added onions for more flavor, and I always use hot Italian sausage.

What Italian cookbook would you recommend for readers? Some of my cookbooks are still packed up, but one of my favorites is "Una Paseggiata in Italia," which was produced by the Italian Cultural Association of Southern Illinois. The book mostly family favorites, like fried zucchini blossoms, cabbage soup, lentil dishes and vegetarian pasta with beans- pasta e fagioli, which I make with a few substitutions. (Note: the cookbook is not currently available, but contact the association via Facebook to make inquiries)

What's next in your culinary adventures? The next time we travel to Paris or Rome, I'd like to take a cooking class there. We've done chef's tables, which is another way of learning and a good way to meet new people. …

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