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Your Italian connection

January 25, 2011 | 12:20 pm

What could soda pop, bottarga and dried fish roe possibly have in common? Thankfully, not a new flavor of soft drink, but the fact that Kyle Phillips is writing about them. Phillips, an American expat living in Tuscany, writes an irregular blog about Italian food on the About website, where it is one of the few gems remaining.

Phillips, who has also translated Pellegrino Artusi’s classic “The Art of Eating Well,” is a lively writer with a broad range of interests. His newsletter also is always also worth a read. In the current number, he recounts the history of Italian sodas –- unlike in the U.S., where they have a long history as industrial products, in Italy until after World War II, they were made in small lots. And thanks to a law that requires that they contain at least 12% fruit juice, they’re still interesting.

After a brief set of tasting notes on Chinotto and Gazosa, Phillips' newsletter seamlessly jumps off to another tasting -- bottarga, laying out the differences between that from tuna (bottarga di tonno: “much sharper [almost bitter], more fishy flavor, and is also saltier”) and that from mullet (bottarga di mugine: “more delicate … and has more of that essence of the sea to it.”)

Somehow it all makes perfect sense.

--Russ Parsons

Photo: Grating bottarga into scrambled eggs; Credit: Eric Boyd/Los Angeles Times