Growing up in an Italian household, the only thing more important than family was food. Both my parents are great cooks. All of us are the type who talk about the next meal while we are in the middle of eating one!

Our dinners consisted of an Italian-style procession of courses: pasta, risotto or soup, fish or meat, fresh vegetables, amazing Italian bread, and of course the salad was always served last. My mother and father would make monthly trips to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to get the best bread in NYC. It should be no surprise that I grew up loving food and what it means to cook for people.

At 14, while at a Quaker boarding school, I became a vegetarian—somewhat of a crime for an Italian! It was only a matter of time, really. From as early as I can remember, I always had qualms about eating animals. I have since begun eating fish, although there are about five fishes I’ll eat, and I never cook it at home.

I’ve had to be creative and smart while feeding myself in order to get enough protein. Throughout the years I’ve come up with, and borrowed, many recipes that would make even a serious meat eater happy.

Here, from time to time, I share with you my thoughts on a meal I’ve had or a recipe I love. I hope you find inspiration and good eats while reading.

Tomatoes & Tequila shots