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Breaking Bread with Social Media

With unassuming European charm and a dose of New York City grit, Maria Filice shared her ‘bittersweet, nostalgic’ tale of cookbook authorship at the November WomenTIES luncheon in Fayetteville, NY last Tuesday.  Maria is author of Breaking Break in L’Aquila, a stunningly beautiful food experience book borne out of her attachment to the Abruzzo region of Italy. She came to know and love L’Aquila, the original home of her late husband, Paul, by accompanying him many times to the lovely city where he spent his childhood.

Maria, a first-generation Canadian-American Italian, was a  food stylist living in New York City when she met Paul Piccone in 1990. When they married, Maria's life quickly became  filled with the warmth of food and friends, often in an Italian inspired theme of simple, fresh ingredients and quick preparation. When Paul passed away at an early age, Maria assumed the business of running Telos, his academic publishing company. A few years later, she decided to fulfill her passion for sharing good food and wine by writing Breaking Break in L’Aquila. Soon after launching the project, the region surrounding L’Aquila suffered a devastating earthquake, so Maria chose to honor her husband and the still recovering city by dedicating the book and its net profits to the people of L’Aquila.

Maria’s story, like so many entrepreneurs, is filled with unplanned events and the all–too-common, hesitant embrace of social media as a tool to market her book. But with the help of young interns at Telos, Maria began to blog, then created Facebook pages and now dabbles in Twitter to spread the message of Breaking Bread.  In her presentation, Maria shared the unlikely connections that inevitably occurred once she embraced social media, and the six degrees of separation story that brought her into George Clooney’s world.  You can read more about that at Maria’s blog, Food & Fate.

What I love about Maria’s story is that she offers a message of encouragement without pretense.  Maria is a regular  person, easy to identify with, someone you just like right away.  Her story is a classic one of making lemonade out of lemons, then literally hitting the road to grow her business and  encourage others in the process. The take away for WomenTIES members and anyone with a desire to do something they’re not sure they have the knowledge to do is - be willing to follow your passion, journey into the unknown and then share your story along the way like Maria is doing.

I bought two copies of Breaking Bread in L’Aquila, one for me and one as a Christmas gift. I made Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil and Chili Peppers that very night. It was very, very good.  But it’s not Maria's recipes that engage me most.  Honestly, it’s Maria's gorgeously lush photos and even more, her philosophy to live life to its fullest.  As a Minnesota-born, Scandinavian, this cook couldn’t be farther from Maria’s Italian origins. But I have developed a passionate sensibility for people-centered cooking and sharing good food  for the pure enjoyment of it whenever possible. I'm happy to say that's a growing club in the world today, and I am happy to promote it and Maria Filice with an endorsement of  Breaking Bread in L’Aquila. Thanks to Tracy Higginbotham of WomenTIES for bringing Maria to our corner of the world!