A Taste for Satire: Ithaca College Professor's Savory New Book Combines Love of Food and Politics
ITHACA, NY — Although containing recipes, Anthony Di Renzo’s new book is as much a feast for the mind as the stomach. “Bitter Greens: Essays on Food, Politics, and Ethnicity from the Imperial Kitchen” is a wide-ranging meditation on Italian food, American culture and globalization. An associate professor of writing at Ithaca College, Di Renzo specializes in classical rhetoric and satire. Both shine through in this collection.
Published by SUNY Press in its Italian/American culture series, “Bitter Greens” is arranged like the courses of a traditional Italian meal, and it includes recipes for antipasto, soup, main course, salad, dessert and coffee. While doing so, it also explores such topics as the Wegmans supermarket chain’s conquest of Sicily, assembly-line sausages, the fabled onion fields of Canastota, New York, the tripe shops of postwar Brooklyn, Hunts Point Market and Andy Boy broccoli rabe, and the fatal lure of Sicilian chocolate.
The historian and culture critic Michael Parenti praises “Bitter Greens” for taking the reader “on a witty and heartfelt romp through history, gastronomy and the ethnic experience. You don’t have to be Italian to enjoy this appetizing and engaging book.”
Di Renzo will give a free public reading from “Bitter Greens” on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m. at Buffalo Street Books, in the DeWitt Mall in downtown Ithaca. For more information on the reading, call (607) 273-8246.
Di Renzo describes himself as a fugitive from advertising, where in the 1980s he “learned how capitalism transubstantiates bits and pieces of my heritage into bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs and fast food.” Since 1990 he has taught in the Department of Writing in the Ithaca College School of Humanities and Sciences, where he focuses on business, technical and professional writing as well as classical argument and humor.
Cited in “Best American Essays,” Di Renzo’s work has appeared in “Alimentum,” “Il Caffé,” “The Normal School,” “River Styx” and “Voices in Italian Americana,” among other publications. He is the author of “American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque” and editor of “If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis.” Currently, he is revising his first novel, “After the Fair is Over.” His novella, “Trinacria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily,” is being considered by Guernica Editions.
For more information about “Bitter Greens,” visit www.sunypress.edu/p-5080-bitter-greens.aspx/.