di Mirella Facchin


  • 35g burro morbido
  • 180ml latte a temperatura ambiente
  • 410g farina tipo 00
  • 55g zucchero
  • 15g lievito madre disidratato
  • 1 uovo piccolo + 1 tuorlo
  • 1/4 cucchiaino estratto di vaniglia
  • 1/4 cucchiaino di sale


Sciogliere il lievito con metà del latte e 2 cucchiai di farina e lasciarlo riposare coperto al caldo per un’oretta.

Nel frattempo sciogliere il burro nel latte restante. In una ciotola mescolare farina e zucchero e, a parte, mescolare uovo, tuorlo e vaniglia.

Quando il lievito si sarà attivato (si formano bolle sulla superficie) aggiungerlo alla farina + zucchero e impastare. Aggiungere burro e latte e poi il composto di uovo e vaniglia a cui solo all’ultimo momento si aggiunge il sale. Il composto va impastato a lungo: 10 min. nell’impastatrice o 20 min. a mano.

Formare un panetto, metterlo in una ciotola e porre in luogo tiepido a lievitare per 90 min. e comunque fino al raddoppio. Coprire la ciotola con la pellicola e mettere in frigo per almeno 3 ore.

Riportare l’impasto a temperatura ambiente, stenderlo all’altezza di 1cm e con due coppapasta formare le ciambelle. Disporre ben distanziate su una placca foderata da carta da forno leggermente infarinata, coprire con un canovaccio e porre in luogo tiepido a lievitare per circa un’ora o fino al raddoppio di volume.

Friggere in abbondante olio di semi di arachide ben caldo fino a doratura, scolare su carta assorbente e passare nello zucchero semolato. Servire immediatamente.


Today it’s my birthday: I received wishes from so many of my friends and family and I have done my best to respond to each individually, but in case I have missed you, apologies and many, many thanks.

It is also a birthday with very important musical reminiscences: when John & Paul wrote “When I’m sixty-four” they chose this number to indicate an unfathomably remote old age, so far from their present to be alien; in fact only Paul and Ringo would live to see their 64th birthday.

I was 11 when Sgt. Pepper’s was released, and to be honest, my musical tastes at the time did not include the Fab Four: an uncle of mine was a sales rep for RCA Records and he fed me unusual music for an 11yo such as Eric Burdon and Frank Zappa; they would be soon followed by Jimi, the Zep and the Dead and only later it encompassed more pop.

I have no memories of what could have been my expectations for such a distant future like my 64th birthday, but here I am: this will be my last power-of-two-birthday, and I am definitely fond of the Beatles, even though I still like the Mothers of Invention and the Animals.

Secrets of pizza-making

by Mirella Facchin

Disclaimer: I have no familiarity with groceries abroad, so some denominations may make no sense at all: I tried, wherever possible, to describe what I meant to allow readers to source the right product, whatever it might be called.

Pizza is a deceivingly simple dish which dates back to the Roman era: Virgil writes in the Aeneid of a threat by the Arpie (evil winged monsters) whereby Aeneas would suffer so much hunger to eat even their “mensae” which were the dough discs distributed instead of plates; once finished and being soaked with sauces and condiments dripping from food, they would be given as food to servants: according to some historian, this is the origin of the pizza we know today.

I had my share of discussions with American friends who genuinely though pizza was invented in the States, but there are XVIII century Italian authors who wrote about pizza as an established, well-known Neapolitan dish.

Finally, the word itself comes from the same germanic roots as “pezzo” and “piece” as well as “bissen” and its English equivalent “to bite” in all likelihood dating back to the Longobardian Kingdom (around VIII Century).

Naples or Rome?

Although the pizza Napoletana is more well-known (thin central disc with a fat border which could also be ricotta-stuffed), there is a very old variant called Romana which is thicker all around and usually sold in rectangular rather than circular servings. Given the tradition goes back to Rome (and not Naples) one should not discount the Romana.

Whatever your preference, the dough is the heart of any pizza, but it so happens the two doughs are very different in preparation and ingredients, so you got to decide which one you will prepare from the get-go.

The two other ingredients that require careful selection are the mozzarella and the tomato, where obviously the adherence to the standard may be limited by their commercial availability.

Flours come in many varieties, but lately a trend is emerging whereby they are classified according to Refinement (from totally refined to whole wheat: Type 00, 0, 1, 2 and WW) and Strength (representing its ability to withstand long leavening, i.e. the gluten level, from below W180 to W360 and above).

Neapolitan dough requires a medium strength flour, while the Romana dough uses the much stronger Manitoba flour (W350+).

Pizza napoletana

  • 750g of T1 W260 flour (if you can’t find Type1, you can use the more common Type0, replacing some with an equivalent amount of whole-wheat)
  • 450ml of water (20-22 °C)
  • 100g of whole-wheat flour
  • 10g of powdered malt or a tablespoon of acacia’s honey (or other not flavored honey)
  • 15g of dried mother yeast
  • 40ml of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20g of salt
  • 300g of tomato pulp (this is bought in cans, the difference with sauce being it’s a little thicker)
  • 400g of mozzarella filone (regular mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella have too much water in it; despite its processed aspect, this is actually the most appropriate kind)

In a big bowl mix the malt, yeast, whole-wheat flour and all the water; stir with your hands until the mixture is homogeneous; cover with a towel and let it rest for 1 hour in a warm oven (pre-heat to 30°C and turn off). When you take it out, the surface of the mix should be uneven, indicating that the leavening agent has been properly activated.

Add the flour and use your kneader to incorporate (yes, this can also be done by hand, but…); after 5 mins or so at speed 1, add the oil and AT THE VERY END, the salt (should be the very last ingredient you add); continue kneading at speed 2 for another 10 minutes or so until the mix is “incordato” (no idea what’s the English for it, the meaning is that the bowl is completely clean and all the dough is on the kneading hook).

Grease the inside of the bowl with a little oil, make up your dough in a ball and put it at the bottom, cover with the towel and put again to rest in the warm oven (see above) for 2 hours.

Remove the towel, cover the bowl with film and let it rest in your fridge for 24 hours.

Take it out of the fridge and let it reach ambient temperature for another hour, then divide it in as many pieces as you have pans (this amount of dough is enough for two 24x36cm pans).

For a rectangular shape (I have included this shape even though not very popular as it’s a bit easier to manipulate):

  • Grease generously the pans with oil and spread the dough WITH YOUR FINGERS (don’t use a rolling pin !) until it fills the pan leaving about half an inch of space all around; the dough being rather elastic, you may have to do this twice, waiting 5-10 minutes between the two.
  • While the dough rests another fifteen minutes, you prepare the toppings: put the tomato in a small pot, season with salt, pepper one teaspoonful of sugar and a tablespoon of oil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Spread evenly on the dough, two or three tablespoons per pan should suffice, but this is according to taste. Cut finely the filone and spread it according to taste.

If you’d rather have the classical round shape:

  • flour your pastry board, cut away some dough (this amount should make three pies) spread it with your fingers, then add the tomato, minced filone and other toppings according to your taste. (*)
  • Place the pizza shovel flush with the dough; have someone hold it still for you, or use your belly; grab the borders and with a swift continuous movement, slide it on the shovel (it will deform when you pull, but the dough is elastic enough to easily regain its cirular shape); open the hot oven, place the shovel at its center, then jerk it back to leave the pizza inside.

Pre-heat the oven to 220 °C (more if you use a stone slab base), place your pizzas as low as possible; cooking should not take more than 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pizza Romana

  • 1kg Manitoba flour
  • 800ml of warm (20-22°C) water
  • 25g (one block) of fresh brewer’s yeast
  • 20g of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • enough durum wheat flour to flour the pastry board

Put the Manitoba in a very large bowl, melt the yeast in the water and pour it all on the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky, semi-liquid batter: this is right, resist the temptation to add more flour !

Add the oil and only when everything else is perfectly mixed up, the last ingredient, salt. Mix until absorbed.

The compound will NOT look homogeneous or dough-like, but that’s the way it should be, don’t worry. Cover with a towel and leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes (avoid cold drafts).

Grease your hands (the mix is sticky!), spread the mix on the floured pastry board, then fold it: this means folding it in half (the mix is very soft at this stage, you might help yourself with a large spatula), then turn it around 90° and fold it again. The dough should be folded 5 times in total – this is very important as it’s the equivalent of kneading.

Put the mix back in its bowl which should be large enough to contain at least twice the amount, cover with film and put in the lowest shelf of your fridge for 24 hours.

When you take it out the next day, the surface should show big bubbles; spread it in the two well-greased pans WITH YOUR FINGERS (not a rolling pin) leaving half an inch all around, and let it rest another hour.

The official protocol allows for almost any conceivable topping on the Romana: tomato, cheese, anchovies, vegetables, anything (bar the pineapple!) remember that ham or salami is best added AFTER cooking. If you use tomato and mozzarella, see my notes above for the Napoletana

True pizza Romana is rarely done in round pies, and is often sold “al trancio” (in slices); it will be about 3/4 of an inch thick and therefore should bake as described for the Napoletana, only longer (10-15 mins). Serve immediately.

(*) Note on toppings: it’s pointless to argue which is best, but there is one which is the Queen of all pizza toppings: tradition goes that the “Margherita” was so named in 1889 to honour of HRH Margherita di Savoia, then Queen of Italy, with the three colours of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). Now you know.

Pyramid puzzle

Many will be familiar with this puzzle which exists also as an online game; its rules are simple: you can only move one disc at a time and cannot place a disc over a smaller one. The objective is to move all discs from the C to the A position.

The entertainment value of such puzzles lies in the utter uselessness of the objective, and while it is deceivingly simple, attempting to solve it without a method leads to failure; I found an extremely elegant, recursive way to solve it and to calculate the number of moves it will take.

Obviously, moving the topmost disc from C to anywhere requires one move; moving the top two involves three moves:

  1. move the smallest disc to B
  2. move the second-smallest disc to A
  3. move the smallest disc from B to A

Since we know this, we can immediately determine that moving the top THREE discs requires 7 moves:

In fact, moving the top “n” discs always requires 2n-1 moves, allowing us to say that moving all 8 discs can be achieved in 28-1=255 moves.

The things I HAVEN’T demonstrated are WHY the number of moves is always a power of 2 minus 1 and whether this is the MINIMUM number of moves to achieve the solution.

[Guest post] La ricetta della focaccia genovese

by Mirella Facchin


  • 187g acqua
  • 19g olio
  • 7g sale
  • 3g malto
  • 299g farina (che regga una lievitazione media, tipo W260)
  • 16g lievito di birra
  • olio e acqua per cottura


500g di pasta riempiono una teglia 25×40

  1. Sciogliere acqua, sale, malto ed olio
  2. Aggiungere metà della farina fino ad ottenere una pasta densa, ma ancora liquida
  3. Aggiungere il lievito ben sbriciolato, eventualmente sciolto in un po’ dell’acqua tiepida sottratta da quella iniziale
  4. Lavorare la pasta aggiungendo la farina restante, fino ad ottenere un impasto compatto ma non duro
  5. Lasciar riposare per 10/15 minuti su un’asse di legno coperta da un telo per evitare che si formi la crosta: la pasta diventerà più asciutta e più facile da gestire
  6. Piegare la pasta in 2 (o in 4 a seconda della forza della farina) per rinforzarla
  7. Dare alla pasta una forma che ricalchi la forma della teglia dove verrà cotta, senza però stirare l’impasto
  8. Versare sul centro della teglia un po’ d’olio e deporci sopra la pasta
  9. Cospargere di olio la superficie della pasta con un pennello (sempre per evitare la crosta)
  10. Mettere a lievitare nel forno spento (30°) per circa 1 ora (raddoppio del volume)
  11. Stendere la pasta nella teglia schiacciandola e non tirandola fino ad occuparla tutta
  12. Cospargere la superficie con un velo abbondante di sale sempre per evitare la crosta
  13. Lasciar riposare circa 30 minuti
  14. Versare un po’ di acqua tiepida e poi un po’ di olio evo
  15. Formare i buchi nella pasta, usando la punta delle dita
  16. Lasciar lievitare altri 75 minuti (anche 2 ore se serve) ATTENZIONE A NON SBATTERE LA TEGLIA METTENDOLA IN FORNO
  17. *** A questo punto è possibile bloccare la lievitazione mettendola in frigo ed estraendola circa 90 minuti prima della cottura ***
  18. Infornare nel forno già caldo (220°) e cuocere per 15-20 minuti ATTENZIONE A NON FARE MOVIMENTI BRUSCHI NELL’INFORNARE
  19. Quando sarà cotta sfornare e rovesciare la focaccia per far passare l’aria anche sotto
  20. Dare una pennellata di olio sulla superficie


Archiviata con grande soddisfazione l’edizione 2018 del nostro barbecue d beneficenza.

Dal drone di Roberto Alfieri

Un po’ di numeri:

  • eravamo in 132 + 9 nani
  • abbiamo consumato 115 salamelle, 18 kg di pulled pork, 6 kg di fagioli, 12 kg di peperoni, 14 melanzane, 25 kg di patate, 16 filoni di pane, 130 panini, 60 birre, 26 bottiglie di vino, 56 litri d’acqua, 140 porzioni di dolce, quasi 1,5 kg di ciliegie, 2 torte portate dagli ospiti e… 94 caffé !
  • abbiamo raccolto €1940 (compresi i 250 provenienti dagli amici che, pur non essendo intervenuti, ci hanno sostenuto con una donazione) e ne abbiamo spesi 1000, dunque domani porteremo ai frati di Canepanova i 940 euro per la Mensa dei Poveri, perfettamente in linea con l’anno scorso (600 euro per 83 presenza)

Dove possiamo migliorare

  • La singola maggiore spesa è stato il noleggio del furgone per il trasporto di tavoli e sedie (€150) – l’anno prossimo dobbiamo trovare qualcuno che ce lo presti (cominciate a domandare in giro, serve un vano di carico di ALMENO 2m.)
  • Dobbiamo anche trovare qualcuno che ci presti un congelatore extra per il ghiaccio, che non ce n’è mai abbastanza
  • Tre portate di carne sono troppe, meglio fermarsi a due (sono rimasti nel surgelatore una quindicina di kg tra costine e hamburger) EDIT: i buoni frati si sono presi tutto ciò che era avanzato, e ci hanno doppiamente ringraziato!
  • La bruschetta iniziale va razionata/distribuita meglio e forse ammazza un po’ l’appetito
  • La musica dal vivo è piaciuta da matti, sarebbe però necessario un piccolo quadro elettrico esterno; inoltre bisogna capire come regolarsi per la SIAE (ho chiesto lumi “in alto” perché trattandosi di una festa privata in casa mia, forse è esente)

E ora, FOTO

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(e qui quelle di Giuseppe, fotografo ufficiale)


9 GIUGNO 2019

On behalf of Dad

Sometimes I perform my filial duty as the official speaker for my dad Antonio.

He is an engineer by background and career, but has always cultivated a keen amateur interest as a linguist. At 89, he is nearly blind but can still read the morning paper, and yesterday he called me, asking me to write a letter to “my friend” Emmanuel Macron, President of France. (He has obviously a rather distorted view of the level of my international connections but who am I to correct that minor, flattering misperception?)

So this letter will be duly addressed to @emmanuelmacron (mr. Macron’s Twitter account) and who knows, maybe his Social Media Manager will deem it worthy of his attention.

Dear mr. Macron,

in your recent visit to Australia, you have been criticized by both the Anglo-Saxon mainstream and social Media for qualifying mr. Turnbull’s wife as “delicious”.

I am writing this letter to show you my support, as – indeed – you are right and they all are dead wrong.

The word “delicious” comes directly from late Latin deliciosus “delicious, delicate,” from Latin delicia  “a delight, allurement, charm,” from delicere “to allure, entice,” from de- “away” + lacere “lure, deceive” (related to laqueus “noose, snare”) (etymology link)

The meaning therefore is more connected to attraction (and therefore love) rather than taste, and in fact Catullus famously uses it in his Second Poem:

Passer, delicia meae puellae […]

Obviously, the sparrow in question is the object of Lesbia’s pet love and certainly not her culinary lust.

The word “delicious” (Fr. délicieux, It. delizioso, Sp. delicioso) indicates therefore something or someone inspiring such charm as to allure someone.

Over time, this meaning was extended becoming indicative of ANY sort of pleasure, including the one related to food, but the original meaning is not forgotten, at least by those who care for the origin of words.

Your use in reference to a lady such as ms. Turnbull was therefore entirely appropriate and she should be flattered by your compliment.

Anglo-Saxon media and Social Media users, on the other hand, deserve an “F” in Latin.


Gianni Catalfamo ( on behalf of my father,

Antonio Catalfamo


The 2017 edition of the Charity BBQ (our third) was held on Sunday, October 1st.

We had a total attendance of 80 people + 9 kids, collected just a shade under 1,000 euros, of which a little more than 400 were spent on food. It is obvious that many thought of giving more than the chair’s rent to the cause, thanks to all for your generosity.

This morning I delivered the resulting 600 euro to the good friars of Canepanova, who cook over 120 free meals a day for the needy.

Frate Camillo was very happy to receive the donation and asked me to wholeheartedly thank all who participated; he also gave me a calendar with all the activities they organize which will be hung in our kitchen for all to see next year.

I asked them to come next year to tell you directly about the good deeds they do, and they promised me to come. In return, I promised him this picture of the group (thanks, Giuseppe!)

It was a great day, maybe the sun wasn’t really shining, but it did not rain, so we could enjoy the lawn: ages ranged from 5 to 91, Giorgio came all the way from London on purpose and Lita is from Singapore.

There’s plenty of pictures on Facebook: here (by Giuseppe) here (by Lita) and here (by Gabriele); if you put up more, email me and I’ll link them here.

Many expressed their thanks which I would like to underwrite to my wonderful and patient family: Aurora, the Receptionist, Camilla, the Sous-Chef, Federico, the Waiter and of course my wife Mirella, the Chef of the day. You will be pleased to learn that there were no leftovers whatsoever: we consumed around 40 kilos of various meats, 20 kilos of potatoes, 15 kilos of corn on the cob, 9 kilos of bread and 12 kilos of homemade buns, 32 bottles of wine and about the same of soft drinks and water and 110 servings of dessert, demonstrating someone cheated !

We also played 109 great tracks of good Rock’n’Roll while I burned a few spare ribs, inhaled tons of smoke, and had a wild time.

We can do better, we will do better.

Planning’s already under way to stretch attendance to 200, so watch this space. Suggestions and ideas welcome at

La terza edizione del Barbecue Benefico si è tenuta domenica 1 ottobre 2017. Abbiamo avuto 80 presenze + 9 bambini, raccolto appena meno di 1,000 euro, di cui circa 400 sono serviti a comprare quello che se semo magnati. È dunque ovvio che più d’uno ha dato più dell’affitto della sedia, grazie a tutti per la generosità.

Stamattina ho portato i 600 euro ai buoni frati di Canepanova, che preparano oltre 120 pasti caldi al giorno per i bisognosi.

Frate Camillo è stato molto contento di riceverli e mi ha chiesto di ringraziarvi tutti; mi ha anche regalato un calendario dove riportano tutte le attività meritorie che fanno e me lo sono appeso in cucina, dove potrete vederlo l’anno prossimo; li ho anche invitati a venirci a raccontare le loro attività l’anno prossimo e mi ha promesso che ci saranno. In cambio gli invierò la foto di gruppo che ha fatto Giuseppe.

È stata proprio una bella giornata, forse non splendeva il sole, ma non ha piovuto, lasciandoci godere il giardino: le età andavano dai 5 ai 91 anni, Giorgio è venuto apposta da Londra e Lita è di Singapore.

Ci sono un sacco di foto su Facebook, tra cui quelle di Giuseppe, di Lita e di Gabriele. Se ne postate altre, mandatemi il link che lo aggiungo.

In molti mi avete ringraziato (e vorrei unirmi a voi) per il lavoro della mia fantastica e paziente famiglia: Aurora la Receptionist, Camilla la Sous-Chef e Federico il Cameriere oltre naturalmente a mia moglie Mirella, lo Chef della giornata. Sarete lieti di sapere che non è avanzato niente: ci siamo sbafati circa 40 chili di carni varie, 20 chili di patate, 15 chili di pannocchie, 9 chili di pane e 12 chili di panini, 32 bottiglie di vino ed altrettante di acqua e bibite, oltre a 110 porzioni di dolce (ovviamente qualcuno ha barato!)

Abbiamo anche suonato 109 tracce della mia mega playlist di ottimo Rock’n’Roll mentre io bruciavo qualche costina, inalavo tonnellate di fumo divertendomi da matti.

Ma naturalmente si può fare di meglio, e di meglio faremo.

La pianificazione dell’edizione 2018 è già partita con l’obiettivo di raddoppiare, dunque tenete gli occhi aperti. Se avete suggerimenti, scrivetemi a:


When tech is funny as hell…

…it’s usually involuntary.

Yesterday I updated my Navdy HUD navigation system to the new 1.3 software release. It’s a massive improvement over the previous version, including tons of nifty new features and making the product even more usable. Highly recommended.

Among the many new features is also international language support, really necessary because turn-to-turn directions trying to pronounce Italian or French road names or reading aloud SMS or emails in Italian did not work at all, to the point I had switched it off.

So I set it to Italian: the voice is a pleasant contralto, nice choice. But somehow (maybe it’s me) I can’t find how I switch the language of the UI to Italian.

Here’s the situation: I am driving while Joe Pesci’s little sister gives me directions and I am beginning to worry the crap out about what will happen if I don’t follow them…

“I told you to turn-a right at the traffic-a light-a, what am I, your fuckin’ clown? Am I here to amuse you?

Navdy support, help !!!!!

Is Nature uncertain?

In my Digital Transformation Masterclass I have two provocative slides, which I use to support my evocative call to action:

“Embrace uncertainty”

because – I say – even the two most precise of all human knowledge domains, mathematics and physics, are fraught with it.

The mere mentions of their names is enough to inculcate a healthy sense of awe and respect, so I never have to explain in more detail the depth of these discoveries.

So I cannot claim that this post serves a business purpose: it serves, however, my vanity in explaining what I believe are two incredibly profound (and overlooked) achievements by geniuses who graced my time: who knows, after the movies on Turing and Nash, these two might be next, because Science is sexy, after all.

Heisenberg’s indetermination principle

I’ll start here because, while Gödel’s Theorem deals with the logic of formal systems, Heisenberg’s Principle has much closer consequences on our everyday life even though it seems to violate what our senses tell us.

In one of its many expressions, the principle states that:

Δx × Δp ≥ h/2π

in plain English: “the uncertainty in the position of an object multiplied by the uncertainty in that object’ momentum is always greater than the reduced Planck’s constant”

I do not have to explain “position”, “momentum” is the product of the object’ mass times its velocity and “h” is the proportionality constant between energy and frequency of a radiation (6.62 × 10-34 J s or kg ms) which had been calculated by Max Planck at the beginning of the century.

This looks counter-intuitive: if I put a ping-pong ball with a mass of 1g on the kitchen table, I know exactly its position (Δx = 0) and its momentum (Δp = 0 because v = 0), no?

Well, not really: the mistake lies exactly in the sloppiness of our senses; when I say that I know the position of the ping-pong ball, I omit to add “as well as my eyes can”. Let’s make an assumption on this precision: what will it be? A tenth of a millimeter? a hundredth? Let’s assume we know the position of the ball with a 1 μm (= 10-6 m) precision. Werner is then telling us that the we know the velocity of the ball with a precision of ±10-25 m/s).

Our impression that the ball was at rest was indeed justified, since to travel 1 cm at the maximum velocity error, the ball would take longer than the age of the Universe.

But see what happens if we consider an electron, whose mass is 9 × 10-31 kg; if we know it’s inside an hydrogen atom (Δx = 5 × 10-11 m), its velocity cannot be determined with a precision of more than 10m/s: therefore it could be standing still or it could be traveling at thousands of kilometers per second.

If, however, we know with good accuracy its velocity (for example because we apply an electrical field), then there is a non-zero probability that the electron is not in the atom at all (or on our planet, for that matter), an effect which made possible to build devices such Scanning Tunnelling Microscopes who are capable of taking images of actual atoms.