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Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital

Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital

Eric Dregni

240 Pages, 5 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780816667468
  • Published: December 12, 2023
  • eBook
  • 9781452914992
  • Published: September 1, 2009


Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital

Eric Dregni

ISBN: 9780816667468

Publication date: December 12th, 2023

240 Pages

1 map

8 x 5

The food-obsessed chronicle of an American’s three years in Italy—now available in paperback


I simply want to live in the place with the best food in the world. This dream led Eric Dregni to Italy, first to Milan and eventually to a small, fog-covered town to the north: Modena, the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, Ferrari, and Luciano Pavarotti. Never Trust a Thin Cook is a classic American abroad tale, brimming with adventures both expected and unexpected, awkward social moments, and most important, very good food.


Parmesan thieves. Tortellini based on the shape of Venus’s navel. Infiltrating the secret world of the balsamic vinegar elite. Life in Modena is a long way from the Leaning Tower of Pizza (the south Minneapolis pizzeria where Eric and his girlfriend and fellow traveler Katy first met), and while some Italians are impressed that “Minnesota” sounds like “minestrone,” they are soon learning what it means to live in a country where the word “safe” doesn’t actually exist—only “less dangerous.” Thankfully, another meal is always waiting, and Dregni revels in uncorking the secrets of Italian cuisine, such as how to guzzle espresso “corrected” with grappa and learning that mold really does make a good salami great.


What begins as a gastronomical quest soon becomes a revealing, authentic portrait of how Italians live and a hilarious demonstration of how American and Italian cultures differ. In Never Trust a Thin Cook, Eric Dregni dishes up the sometimes wild experiences of living abroad alongside the simple pleasures of Italian culture in perfect, complementary portions.

Eric Dregni is assistant professor of English at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco. He is the author of several books, including In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream, Minnesota Marvels: Roadside Attractions in the Land of Lakes, and Midwest Marvels: Roadside Attractions across Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin, all published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Vicolo Forni
Permesso di Soggiorno
A Page Boy in Pavarotti's Restaurant
Sleeping with Nuns
Il Cappuccino
Lord Arnold and the Knight
Terror and Courtesy at the Esselunga Supermercato
Foiling the Cheese Thieves
Mold Makes a Good Salami Great
"The Poor Meatball!"
Rats in the Canals, Peacocks in the Piazza
The Bicycle Thief
Treachery and Treason amid the Subcommittee of Vespa Paint
Norman the Conqueror
Eat Your Hat, Cowboy
A Night at the Opera
Four, Five, Sex . . .
Lessons from Guido
A Risky Subject
Casino or Casinò?
Commie Pigs?
Never Trust a Thin Cook
Angry Noodles
Walking over Death
Super Pig Trotter
Reggio's Blockheads and Bologna's Baloney
The Secret World of the Balsamic Vinegar Elite
Pet Pigs
Buon Natale!
Sunny Italy
The Hot Springs of Ischia
Naples at New Year's
San Geminiano and the Festival of Fog
Soccer Season
Truffles and Cotecchino
Porn and Puritans
La Tivù
Politics, Italian Style
The Art of Eating
Eating Venus's Navel
Back to High School
La Ferrari
Touch Your Balls for Luck!
Why Would You Ever Leave?

Parli Italiano?