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Recent Blog Posts

Jury Duty vs. Root Canal

Some choices require analysis and deep thought. Others are a piece of cake. My first experience with jury duty When preparing to write this story, I asked my friends how many times they had been called to jury duty. Most of them said that they’d served multiple times; some said as many as ten times…

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Rome’s Drinking Fountains

Rome has thousands of quirky drinking fountains called Nasoni to keep you hydrated during the hot summer. Nasoni origin story Nasone by the Pantheon (photo: Brent Petersen) In the 1870’s, shortly after unification, Rome became the capital of the new country of Italy. The local government decided it would be a good idea to supply…

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The R.E.M. Steeple

The site of R.E.M.’s first ever show is a church locals have fought hard to preserve. St. Mary’s Steeple, Athens, GA (photo: Brent Petersen) On April 5th, 1980, R.E.M. played their first ever show in the chapel of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which had been converted from a house of worship to an arts and…

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Ancients & Horribles Parade

Big Nazo puppets at Ancient & Horribles parade, Chepachet, RI (photo: Brent Petersen) Unlike other reverent parades, Rhode Island’s Ancients & Horribles parade skewers local and national figures and satirizes popular culture. Ancient & Horribles origin story Photo: Brent Petersen In the 19th century, it was common in New England to have military parades to…

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A cheese from Sicily cooked three times

Tricotta takes Ricotta Cheese and cooks it a third time for a special Sicilian treat. Tricotta origin story Tricotta for sale in Sicily (photo: Karen Campopiano) Ricotta Cheese is made from whey, the protein-rich liquid left over from the cheese making process. Most of the Ricotta Cheese consumed in the United States is made from…

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Garlic Scapes

This little-known part of the garlic plant makes an amazing pesto. What are Garlic Scapes? Notice the distinctive curly-cue shape of the Garlic Scape (photo: Brent Petersen) Garlic is an allum, related to the onion. Everyone is familiar with the garlic bulb, the part of the plant that grows underground and is harvested for its…

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Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Several digital art exhibits featuring the work of Vincent Van Gogh are traveling the United States in 2021 and 2022. Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience (photo: Brent Petersen) What is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience? Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is one of several exhibits of the master’s works. Rather than looking at canvases on…

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The Real Chicago-style Pizza isn’t Deep Dish

You’ll want some authentic Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza when you visit the Windy City. But, don’t miss out on the very different kind of pizza that the locals eat everyday. Tavern-style Pizza origin story Vito & Nick’s Tavern-style Pizza (image: vitoandnicks.com) There’s a joke among Chicagoans that they only time they eat Deep Dish Pizza…

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Rhode Island’s Icy Summer Treat

You may have tried Sno-Cones and Shave Ice, but until you’ve been to Lil’ Rhody in the summer, you haven’t had a Del’s. Del’s origin story Image: Del’s Frozen Lemonade Facebook page Del’s started as a frozen lemonade stand in Cranston, Rhode Island in 1948 by Angelo DeLucia. But, the business can be traced to…

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Lyon’s Little Prince

A statue honoring Lyon’s favorite son, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is hiding in plain sight. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Antoine de Saint-Exupéry & The Little Prince statue in Lyon, France (photo: Brent Petersen) Lyon, France’s second city, has had her fair share of famous citizens from Roman emperor Claudius to chef Paul Bocuse. But, when the airport’s…

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Beavertail Lighthouse

A beacon guiding ships through the treacherous waters of Narragansett Bay has been on this spot in Rhode Island for over 300 years. Beavertail Origin Story Beavertail State Park (image: discovernewport.com) Conanicut Island sits in Narragansett Bay, just a couple nautical miles from Rhody’s other famous island Aquidneck, where the city of Newport is located….

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Affogato

This rich and creamy drink combines two things that Italy excels at: espresso and gelato. What is an Affogato? Notice the extra crema on top from the melted gelato (photo: Brent Petersen) An Affogato is a very simple, elegant coffee-based drink made by pouring a shot of espresso over a scoop of gelato. The gelato…

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Vegan “Mock Tuna” Chickpea Salad

This delicious and versatile recipe doesn’t really taste like tuna, but it has a similar texture and can be used in similar ways so I’m calling it “mock tuna.” Chickpea Salad Roasted peppers and chickpea salad (photo: Brent Petersen) Chickpeas are incredibly versatile but we often get stuck using them in hummus over and over…

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Shave Ice

You might know it as Italian Ice, Snow Cone, SnoBall, or Hawaiian Shaved Ice, but real Hawaiians know this sweet treat simply as Shave Ice. Shave Ice Origin Story Wailua Shave Ice with Sno Cap (photo: Brent Petersen) Japanese immigrants brought Shave Ice (never called Shaved Ice in the Aloha State) to Hawaii when they…

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Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey is enjoying a moment as a trendy sweetener. But, is it worth the hefty price tag and are you getting what you pay for? What is Manuka Honey? Manuka Honey comes from honeybees pollinating the Leptospermum, a shrub common in New Zealand and southeast Australia. When the shrub is in bloom, bees flock…

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You’ll Never Win, Spassky

I recently watched “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. I know I’m late to the game, but I enjoyed the show. It also brought up memories of my youth, when my father taught me to play chess. Between the ages of 6 and 10 we played all the time. This was in the early 70’s when…

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Farfalle & Carrots

This vegan dish is easy to make and quite delicious. It might also win you a girlfriend (or boyfriend). Origin Story Photo: Brent Petersen When we first started dating, Karen claimed she couldn’t cook (I found out later this was a big lie. She’s one of the best cooks I know). Me, wanting to impress…

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Pizza Strips

Everyone in Rhode Island loves Pizza Strips. Any gathering in Lil’ Rhody is sure to have a box of the treat set out. What are Pizza Strips? Image: providenceonline.com Pizza Strips (sometimes called Tomato Pie in other parts of the country), are made with a soft focaccia-like crust. The rectangular dough is topped, a little…

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A Train Ride in Sicily

Riding the train in Sicily, my mind wanders. The scenery leads to these thoughts. Heading south to Siracusa, oil refineries blight the coastline, sucking up any of what could be an incredible Mediterranean shore. Noxious smoke chokes the air and giant open holding tanks of sludge rise to the lip of the pool, threatening everything…

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Blitva

Blitva is a delicious Croatian side dish. I put my own spin on it. My discovery of Blitva Photo: Brent Petersen In 2011, my girlfriend and I were traveling around Croatia and Slovenia. It was late fall and truffles were in season, so we ate a lot of truffles. Shaved truffles on eggs for breakfast…

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Sprinkles or Jimmies?

What do you ask for when you want your ice cream cone topped with little pieces of confectionery? The answer largely depends on where you’re from. Origin Story Nonpareils aka Hundreds and Thousands are the predecessor to Sprinkles (and Jimmies). These little round balls of sugar date back to the 18th century when they were used…

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Hot Toddy

Cold weather can mean getting toasty with a Hot Toddy, This bevvie warms two ways, with the hot liquid and the whiskey. Hot Toddy origin story No one knows for sure who or where the Hot Toddy was invented. But the name likely comes the Indian word “toddy.” And while the word toddy came from…

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Lychee Fruit

Unpeeled Lychee fruit (photo: Brent Petersen) Lychee originated in southern China 1,000 years ago, but I didn’t eat it regularly until we were living in Hawaii. The rind of the Lychee ranges in tones from pink to red. The first time I bought Lychee, I had no idea how to open the rind to get…

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Movies that will make you want to visit France

Anyone who’s been to France knows it is a beautiful and romantic country. Here are a few movies that make the country look its best. Amélie The 2001 film has become a classic. Mostly because of the enchanting lead actress Audrey Tautou. Paris at its most quirky and adorable. Funny Face Audrey Hepburn was only…

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Pizzolo in Sicily

Photo: Brent Petersen In Greek mythology, Kalliope is the goddess of music, song and dance. She is also the muse of epic poetry.So, why would a restaurant in Sicily be named after a Greek goddess? There are a couple of good reasons. First, Homer’s Odyssey is said to have been inspired by Kalliope and much…

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Music school in Lucca, Italy

Lucca, Italy (photo: Brent Petersen) Yet another entry in my long list of examples of why you should keep yourself open to saying “yes” to unexpected experiences.In Lucca, Italy we were walking around the town, searching for a place to eat, when we noticed a lot of college-age kids coming and going from a building….

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Living the dream

Photo: Brent Petersen No matter how much you like your job, there are going to be those days. You know, those days when your boss piles on too much work, no one seems to want to cooperate and then a customer yells at you for something that is obviously their fault.That’s when, inevitably, someone will…

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Flat White-the espresso drink of disputed origin

Not a latte and not a cappuccino, the flat white is a unique beverage all its own from, depending on who you believe, Australia or New Zealand. What is a Flat White? A Flat White is a coffee drink made with espresso. Layered on top of the espresso is a layer of foamy milk, The…

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Meli Kalima pineapple

When we lived in Hawaii, one of the most exciting things was discovering all the new foods. The delicious Meli Kalima pineapple (photo: Brent Petersen) One of these is the Meli Kalima pineapple (translates from Hawaiian to English as Honey Cream pineapple) which is native to Hawaii and  is only grown at one single farm….

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Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…in Italy

Chestnut vendor in Rome (photo: Brent Petersen) One of my favorite things about being in Italy in the fall and winter is the chestnut vendors. On almost every corner some guy (it’s usually a man) sets up a barrel, lights a fire and roasts chestnuts on a pan.I’m not a huge fan of the chestnuts…

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