Lidia M. Bastianich, Jazz Brunch at Newport's Wine and Food Festival: A Lesson Revisited - Page 3
From Lidia's introduction of her mother and grandson to the conclusion of her half hour remarks and twenty minutes of questions, she was just like she is on her TV show, down to earth and unpretentious...but more humorous, and not by design. She was spontaneous and reacted to the "feel" of how the crowd moved her. As she discussed how "good" the country was to her, how it allowed her family which had nothing, to find the opportunity to prosper and thrive, in the immigrant experience, her eyes teared. She is a success story, like many who came over in the 1950s and earlier. Her message resonated with the audience, many of whom probably had grandparents from Europe and who still believe in America's Golden Dream of prosperity. This, despite the economic stasis and downturn parts of the country are experiencing.
Indeed, Rhode Island has had to revise its pension system forcing state employees to retire much later because the economy is so depressed. But according to one of the wait staff at The Spiced Pear in The Chanler Hotel, Dolores Dukes' renovated mansion, Newport is its own world. Walking around its streets, one would never realize the entire state of Rhode Island is hurting, nearly bankrupt. And certainly, selecting Lidia as a guest speaker for the Wine and Food Festival under the auspices of the Newport Preservation Society was a wise move. She was the celebrity, the glitterati who gave cache to the event this year.
However, despite that idea of the monied class of Newport, she made it a point to emphasize the once greatness of this country that allowed her success. Her remarks especially underscored that she believed it is of vital necessity that we continue to be a culture rich in economic opportunity so that future generations can also prosper through industry, ingenuity and creativity. These remarks of hers received the most resounding applause
After answering questions about the best tomatoes for sauce (Italian plum) the Holy Trinity of Italian cooking (garlic, onions, extra virgin olive oil...after which Lidia made sure to emphasize that every culture had its equivalent Holy Trinity of similar items) and whether eggplant needs to be soaked in water before slicing and flouring (yes) the buffet concluded. Lidia signed books, chatted with fans and graciously posed for pictures. She had driven up with her mom who is 91 and her grandson to accompany her, easier, she said, than flying. Then she was going to dash off to another venue in the Wine and Food Festival, the Sunday Grand Tasting where she would meet, greet and sign more books, Random House sales personnel close by her side supervising.Continued on the next page