Sunday, February 9, 2014

Author Loretta Lombardi Talks about her "I'm Hot, You're Hot" Cookbook for Lovers


I’ve known Loretta Lombardi since we were both kids. We both grew up in South Philadelphia’s St. Monica Parish and we are both Italian, which means that we love to cook good food. Loretta has published a cookbook for lovers. What a great gift for Valentine’s Day!

While Loretta prepared a delightful lunch for us, we chatted about her book and why she feels eating the right foods will not only fix what ails us, but put more oomph in our sex lives.                                                                     
Marie Gilbert: “Loretta, before we talk about the book, tell us about your teaching career.”
Loretta Lombardi: “I’ve taught school for forty-one years and one of the extracurricular activities close to my heart while teaching parochial school in South Philadelphia was the drama club for the seventh and eighth graders. We would have competitions with other catholic grammar schools for a one act comedy. We had all year to practice our choice of play then perform at Bishop Newman High School. Lo and behold, with a lot of hard work and a lot of fun times, we put on a lot of good plays and, two of the four years that we did the competition, we got first place trophies. It was a worthwhile part of my life and they were like my own children.”


Marie Gilbert: “After retiring from teaching, how did you get involved in cooking and what prompted you to write the I’m Hot Your Hot cookbook?”
Loretta Lombardi: “A few years ago, a friend of mine was over for a nice lunch topped off with a couple of glasses of wine, and she said to me, “You know, you’re a really good cook. Why don’t you sit down and write a cookbook?”
I never ever thought of myself writing a book, but soon after, we had a horrible snowstorm in November of 2009 and plus I had an accident. I fell and hurt my foot and so I was left with the options of sitting and doing nothing, or doing something constructive. The seed was planted and I started writing poetry. I’m not a poet per say, but on occasion I might write some poems in my journal which led to me writing some food poetry, but, I was thinking what am I going to do with this?                                                                 
I’ve only been learning about whole foods for six years, so I wasn’t the most experienced in the business of writing. But, I had enough knowledge and I was willing to do the research. I picked out some of my recipes, looked at some others and modified a few things that I would like to make. I got started and tested a few and if they tasted good to me, I’d invite friends to taste a recipe or two and if they liked it, I’d include it in the book and that’s how I got started. 

I wanted this book to be for lovers because everybody is a lover not only of food, but of each other. This book is especially for couples so they can take the time to express their affection through food and know how good it tastes and how satisfying it is. Food is just a stepping stone to sensuality. It is sensual in itself and promotes sensuality in a relationship.”

Marie Gilbert: “Because they are healthy?”

Loretta Lombardi: “Because they are healthy. So, that’s how the idea started to work. I decided to write some love quotes. I wanted the love quotes to come from me and I wrote some one and two liners that I would like say to someone in my circle of intimate partners. I continued writing some kitchen and bedroom poetry and then I began with the recipes. I wanted to create a cookbook that contained simple but delicious recipes that were easy to make with a recipe for each month.”

Marie Gilbert: “One for each month?” as she flicked through the pages.

Loretta Lombardi: “Yes, for lovers, whoever they are, in an intimate relationship to set aside one day a month and have a book that was already planned out. The recipes are simple, nutritious, and energetic and have aphrodisiac qualities. I set the atmosphere and ambiance on how to set the table and what wines and beers to serve with what foods; they (the couple) could take it from there.

At the very end I got in touch with Christina Pirello, author of macrobiotic cookbooks and star of the television series “Christina Cooks”. This came about because I was on a Holistic Cruise...”

Marie Gilbert:  “Was this a special cruise?”

Loretta Lombardi: “Yes, one that I’ve been taking for many years. “Holiday at Sea” takes us to the Caribbean Islands, east or west, every year. They close off half the ship and have one dining area for people who just eat macrobiotics like vegans and vegetarians, and the other half of the ship eats regular food.
On this trip, one of the chiefs was Christina who I’ve seen several times on the cruises or conferences and she’s even been at the Essene Café at 719 S. 4th Street in Philadelphia doing monthly workshops back in the day. There was a talent show for all the macrobiotic and vegan people the night before our last day of the cruise and I volunteered to read a couple of poems from my book saying these poems were from my holistic cookbook that contained love and sensual poetry. There must have been around seven hundred people there and they were applauding and one man shouted out that he wanted to be the first to buy my book.”

Marie Gilbert: “But, you’re book wasn’t out at that time?”
Loretta Lombardi: “No, it wasn’t, I was just feeling out the crowd with my poems.”

Marie Gilbert: “You were testing out the water.”
Loretta Lombardi: “Yes, testing out the water, putting my book out there and planting the seed. The next day, Julia Ferre, who has a foundation out in California with her husband and also writes the magazine “Macrobiotics Today” said she wanted to publish my poems, but I wanted to hold off until my book was published and then release the poetry for her magazine.

That night at the farewell party on the ship my friends called over Christina Pirello’s husband and I introduced myself. He had written a book called “Bones” on how to reverse osteoporosis. He and Christine had sent out flyers looking for volunteers for an educational program. I was speaking to Mr. Pirello about my helping at the school when Christian walked up to us and asked if she could read my manuscript; we met later and I gave her my hardcopy. The next time we met up, Christine told me that she liked the way I had set up the book with the poetry and recipes, but wanted to know how I was going to explain to Joe Blow from South Philadelphia that this was a book that he would like to read.”

Marie Gilbert: “So, what did you say?”

Loretta Lombardi: “Well, I guess I have to find a way to motivate him on the idea that whole foods are not only good for his body, but it would make him more sexually active because everything would be in working order, so to speak.”
 I decided  on adding headers to each recipe which not only explained the nutrition in my recipes but the energetics using a combination of history and folklore and the food’s aphrodisiac qualities with each recipe ending with how I felt the couple would feel after eating one of the meals. After four years, I finally got this book together. I didn’t use photographs because I wanted people to zone in on the headings to motivate them to cook the recipes. It gives them their own visual of what the food is about.”

Marie Gilbert: “I like that idea. So, you went from teaching to writing this cookbook. You’re certified in macrobiotics?”
Loretta Lombardi: “Yes, I started macrobiotics in 2003 and did an intensive workshop with Denny Waxman, who is head counselor in macrobiotics, and his wife Susan Waxman, head chief of the Strengthening Health Institute, SHI.
I was so enamored with the philosophy of the workshop and it was an incentive for me to take better care of myself and encourage others to heal themselves. I’ve always wanted to help my family and friends heal themselves. People get to a certain age and take their bodies for granted thinking their body is supposed to fall apart, but according to this philosophy; that is not necessarily so. You can reenergize your cells because number one, your cells have a memory and secondly food is healing. Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine.”

The ancients used herbs and food to heal throughout history and people would die of natural death and not from all these crazy diseases that we have today. They had a diet that consisted of grains, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and fruits; this was their mainstay and it wasn’t until much later in history that meat became so popular especially after World War One with the promotion of the Beef Industry, which has come to the ruination of our Western Civilization especially the United States of America.”

Marie Gilbert: “So, you feel with this diet, it would reverse certain diseases?”
Loretta Lombardi: “I think it would promote healing and whatever ailment the reader would have, it would give the reader the incentive to do research on their particular ailment, if they are diabetic, or have heart disease or cancer. If they are terminal and in the later stages of their disease than I would recommend them getting a top nutritionist like Denny Waxman from Philadelphia, who has been doing this for over forty years. I’ve seen with my own eyes, people come back their illnesses reversed.

Marie Gilbert: “Would you consider meeting with people to help them with their diets?”
Loretta Lombardi: “Yes, I do private counseling and one on one cooking classes in my home; I also do lectures for groups who are interested. My book is about the energetics of food and what part of the body the food will help with vitamins, minerals; the way food was used back in the days of old in different countries.
With specific ailments, there is one very good book called, “The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health" by Michio Kushi. This is the bible of health books. This book explains the cause of the illness according to Chinese medicine, it tells you the symptoms and then how to reverse certain conditions using certain foods and drinks. Another book which I recommend is “The Complete Guide to Natural Healing” by Tom Monte.”


Marie Gilbert: You’ve made me a delicious lunch today. Would you like to tell my readers what you prepared for us?”
Loretta Lombardi: “We’ll start with the soup, which was pureed butternut squash, parsnip, carrot, miso and chopped cilantro on top. For the beans, I used pinto beans cooked in boiling water and as the beans came to a closing, I added mustard and a postage size amount of kombu which is a seaweed and helps you to better digest beans and not worry about the gaseous results.
Then we have a Chinese vegetable, which is like a mustard green, sautéed in olive oil and added delicious cut up apples and added an ounce of pumpkin ale. We had French couscous, and for dessert, we had sweet potato, parsnip and Japanese potato all cut in three quarter of an inch slices that are steamed and drizzled with a light cover of rice syrup topped with nuts.”

Marie Gilbert: “I was surprised that you used the rice syrup instead of honey.”

Loretta Lombardi: “Honey is a simple sugar and in whole foods we lean towards complex carbohydrates and two very good sweeteners used in macrobiotics is rice syrup and barley malt.


Marie Gilbert: “Loretta, will we be seeing more cookbooks from you?”

Loretta Lombardi: “I’m restudying the five elements of nature concerning food and there are certain foods that would help, for example, in Chinese medicine if you had back problem you find a food that pertains to the water element. That element has foods that strengthen the kidneys. The metal element that is also on that element wheel has foods that strengthen the kidney.

I’m studying this more and more every day because these elements would also help with emotional problems. If you’re exhibiting erratic behavior or you’re not able to focus; there are foods that could help in this area as well.

I would like to use the five element chart to address pre-teens and teenagers through rap music or video to teach these children the right way to eat. The school lunches for the most part are not nutritious and they are making the kids sick; they’re lethargic, sleeping in class.”

Marie Gilbert: “Thank you so much Loretta for being a guest on my blog and for this lovely and healthy lunch. For all my readers, Loretta’s book can be found on Amazon and if you order it now, you’ll have it in time for Valentine’s Day. Bon appetite!”
You can find Loretta's book here. Below are the tentative dates for her book launch.

Tentative Book Launch/Lecture in March of 2014 at Essene Café 719 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, Pa 215-922-1146
Book Launch /Lecture on July 17, 2014 at 7p.m. at Daily Grind Café 261 Old York Road, Jenkintown Pa. 267-287-8243


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