How did I land in Umbria to live and write a book? Basically, a winemaker I worked with in Tuscany suggested it. Umbria’s wine is going to be big, he said. Umbria was affordable and  possibly more beautiful, and definitely less crowded, than the Tuscany I loved. And at that time, there wasn’t a cookbook on Umbrian cuisine.

Living in Umbria was an adventure, as you might imagine! Tagging along with the legendary truffle hunter whose dog ate the truffle. Scouring the forest for wild asparagus with Luigi. Making ravioli with eleven-year old Alberto. Learning to roast Umbrian porchetta from a local butcher. Rolling pasta with eighty-year old Rita.

Enough adventures, recipes, and stories to fill more than one book.

80-year old Rita rolling out pasta.

80-year old Rita rolling out pasta.

I found my country apartment online–where I didn’t know a soul. I never would have imagined how lucky I would be when I sent my payment in for the rental. Mario, the young man, unknown to me, who would be my neighbor, ended up being like a son–and as we got to know each other, his family “adopted” me.

Because of these friendship–and the other great people I became friends with, the book evolved into a very intimate look at the region’s culture and food. I learned first hand about Umbria’s culinary traditions, many of which can be traced back two thousand years to the Etruscans—roasting meat on a spit, making wine, pressing olives to make oil, making cheese, and cooking with saffron, pepper, and bay leaves. The Dog Who Ate the Truffle is an intimate look at these ancient customs and the people who pass them on from one generation to the next.

The Dog Who Ate the Truffle (Thomas Dunne Books; ISBN 0-312-57140-2; $25.99/August 2009). Available at, and other online bookstores. Or ask your bookstore to order it.