Margherita Pizza

The Hygge of Italian cuisine centers around family, food and old fashioned fun… it’s the pizza party! The making and eating of pizza is a group social activity all over the world. The pizza itself is made fresh with the hands of the pizza chef or Pizzaiolo/Pizzaioli, the ingredients arranged with respect for traditional artistic placement of tomatoes, cheese,  olive oil and basil. The first pizza was probably white with just and oil and cheese on top of the crust, but Columbus brought back tomatoes from the new world and the rest is love for this wonderful food. Let’s explore the history of the Margherita pizza which comes from the area of Naples, Italy.

The Italian unification bringing together the city states into the Kingdom of Italy, or the Risorgimento was promoted under the King Umberto I who was married to Queen Margherita of Savoy. Margherita was a popular Queen Consort and so she suggested a tour of the cities during the unification campaign in 1889. In advance of the King and Queen traveling to Naples the Queen requested traditional Italian food and asked the Chef for pizza. Chef Raffaele Esposito  arranged for a special meal in honor of the unification and made a marvelous pizza with the toppings of tomato (red) mozzarella ( white) and basil ( green) to reflect and honor the colors of Unified Italy! Chef named it Margherita Pizza which continues to this day in any country where those toppings and style market a Margherita pizza. It’s only fair to say many towns, villages mountain peaks and art museums where also named for the Queen… not so much for her husband as Umberto was assassinated in 1900. They managed to produce a son and heirs who carried on the royal government until the Italian Republic was formed in 1946.

In Italy… An interview with Gina…

I could smell “home” but where was it coming from?  Although I was just aimlessly walking around Rome’s back streets after touring the Vatican, there it was, less than fifty feet away a pizza storefront!  It smelled just like my mother’s made from scratch Neapolitan heritage pizza!  Using my broken Italian, somehow, I was able to order a Margherita pizza and a drink.  Excitedly I walked to the counter to get the treats.  To my surprise, the large paper plate held a generous square piece of pizza which the counter person weighed.  He told me the grams, as the pie was sold by weight, and added the beverage and gave me total Lire cost.  Biting the crisp crust was so reminiscent of my mother’s pie.  However, the mozzarella seemed milkier and just stretched around my mouth swirling around the delectable sauce with tomato chunks perfectly seasoned with fresh basil.  The crust, airy like clouds.  Blowing to cool the sizzling hot square, a definite must before taking the initial heavenly bite.  The savory morsel conjectured visions of ancestors luxuriously reclining on their patrician eating furniture in the atriums of their Pompeiian homes.  What a fabulous way to “break bread” with friends—a delectable/delicious over the top upgrade truly fit for the ancient Roman Senate and People, SPQR.  

In America… Margherita Pizza in New Jersey…

Much to my surprise my dear cousin, Ernest Trunzo was starting his career as a Pizzaiolo in our home state of New Jersey. I was returning from living in L.A. California craving a pizza and hoagie that tasted more like home. He made the Marguerita pizza better than any I have tasted around the world. “Ernie” was loved by all and generous as the owner of an Italian hoagie/pizza shop because anyone who needed or wanted great food could find it. We teased him that maybe he would allow Sophia Loren to be his pizzaiola near his ovens but he did it his way and mostly by himself. Raising my glass of Chianti, Ernie, forever in our hearts and loved dearly by all passed last year may he rest in peace. I dedicate this blog to Ernest E. Trunzo as one spectacular human being. 

Anachronism: The Handshake

An anachronism is a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned. In Medieval Europe the Knights would shake hands to dislodge weapons being carried in the clothing. It was not uncommon to find daggers falling out in the process. In 5th Century BC in Greece it was simply a way to show no weapons in the hand and that men came in peace. The right hand was always used as more hygienic as the cultural and religions restrictions dictated.

Many cultures were horrified by a strong grip handshake, but not in America. After the 19th Century American men were taught the handshake needed to be firm to indicate enthusiasm that they were really pleased to be meeting the guy on the other end of the shake. The left hand was never held in the left pocket according to the etiquette of that era. The American female seldom engaged in the handshake until the gals entered corporate American mid to late 20th Century and then only to lightly touch so as not to cause pain to the women. In fact, the Girl Scouts taught that girls should shake with their left hands and raise the right hand in the Girl Scout sign, it was explained to them that the left hand was closer to the heart.

Perhaps, during the current COVID 19 pandemic it is time to eradicate the handshake as something that served its purpose but no longer does and in fact transmits disease. My mindfulness practice has served me well for almost three decades. I was reflecting last night on the benefits as I completed my new book on mindfulness. It seems I have been training as a mindful meditator my entire life for a lifestyle that includes so many techniques for quality and quantity of life but three stand out during these days of the 2020 pandemic virus:

  1. The use of the namaste greeting at ten feet without touching but sending energetic love and compassion as the best way to greet people.
  2. During zazen  let the itch on the nose  come and go without scratching it or touching our faces.
  3. Mindfulness style includes intense cleanliness and single tasking.

“Taylor Ham” Eggs & Cheese

In 1856 John Taylor of NJ developed a new sandwich food which he called “Taylor’s Prepared Ham.” It is a tasty if not amazingly healthy breakfast meat by today’s standards. Taylor Ham was a hit and seen in many homes for breakfast as well as for lunch with eggs and cheese. After many years of great success and many sales, other competitors started to duplicate or imitate his process making an equally delicious treat. This continued until food labeling regulations required that it must be designated and properly labelled as a pork roll product similar to the new competitors. The Food and Drug act of 1906 created the requirements but litigation in 1910 ruled that words like pork roll could not be trademarked, so Taylor obeyed the law. IMG_7544

My dad used to put it on the grill in an attempt to diminish the fat content. The added grilled flavor has kept my interest focused on this Holiday breakfast treat. In 2016, NJ Assemblyman Tim Eustace presented an act making ‘Taylor Ham and Egg’ the NJ State Sandwich. President Obama got into the mix at a Rutgers University speech, saying he would settle the Taylor Ham or pork roll debate in his final year in office then smiled and said no way… not even the president would not enter this controversy! LOL

Social media occasionally puts up the question whether it is pork roll or Taylor Ham — and now I am going to answer that as a Northern New Jersey gal, which is where it all began. It is colloquially called Taylor Ham in my home and hometown because after almost 175 years of tradition and respect for the founder.  Keep in mind much the same way we all say may I have a coke, when we enter a NJ diner, that colloquialism exists because Coke was the first, Xerox was the first and many times we say xerox it to mean run a copy and Taylor Ham was most definitely first. One final note I eat all brands of pork roll!

-Northern New Jersey Gal Nora D’Ecclesis


To be in the present and enjoy the moment is the intention. Danish Hygge (Hew-Guh) offers a path toward the comfort and joy of staying in the present which is a way of life in Danish culture. Hygge is a serene retreat into enjoying the simplicity of a cozy and warm environment devoid of the autopilot rushing so common in most cultures.

In Copenhagen, where most of the population joyfully ride their bikes to work and social events, there are bike paths everywhere. During the snow days the bikes paths are plowed first! The major commerce is spread out over the many kilometers of the waterfront city to avoid traffic congestion. The harbor is peacefully shared by their neighboring country, Sweden. The Danes think of themselves as the happiest on earth and with reason when one explores how to Hygge. 16 hours of darkness a day in the winter and cold temperatures create the perfect environment to come in out of the cold to a warm cozy tradition.

Hygge started in Norway around the 19th Century but strongly caught on in Denmark becoming entrinsically entwined with their cultural goals. It has recently become a popular word in the British and American lexicons.

Taking time throughout the day to go into a state of relaxation, rest, calm and happiness reminds our body that there is more than one way to be. The goal is to turn the momentum in the other direction away from stress. Hygge makes calm our baseline, the norm to which the body should always return.  It also pumps up seratonin and norepinehrine. The simplicity of the Hygge activity is what makes it even more wonderful and it doesn’t invlove any of the usual materialistic purchases of similar practices.

Hygge, in a word, is mindfulness, being in the present… living a life of being open and and in a state of equanimity. Hygge is… a safe haven of enjoying the simple things in life with either alone time or socializing. It’s a daily experience during all seasons. In the winter it is the time to come in out of the cold, snuggle with your warm puppy in the sherpa blankets and settle in with friends and family to enjoy the well being of the moment. The shared glass of wine or tea with viennoiserie pastries and the flickering of the candles in subdued yellow tones set the mood. The additional warming slippers and fireplace heat omits the mental disquietude and allows for the comfortable socialization of respectful conversation.

More than just part of the daily Dane cultural practice Hygge is the Dane identity… socialization, compassion, respect for all other practices and an awareness that taking that bike out in the morning is, in addition to the environmental benefits, a sound practice toward better quality and quantity of human life.

Watching a small group of millenials place a blanket down on the park lawn and pull out the Dane beer “pilsner” and cheese for a Hygge while the sun is out is a joy and comforting for the observer. An actual sunny day is rare with less than four hours of sun a day and a great deal of precipitation.

Imagine Hygge in Central Park on a sunny day or the Poconos in February. The joy of a cozy and comfortable conversation with people who respect the diversity of opinions and create a safe environment to simply stay in the moment. Hygge is a way of life in Denmark, the sharing of foods and drink and relaxing alone or in small groups. Light a candle, kick off your boots, build a fire in your wood burning stove and visualize our global neighbors in Copenhagen. 

Spiritual Portals is now available in audio format


In 2019 Blacktone Publishing purchased Spiritual Portals: A Historical Perspective, to produce an Audio Book. Spiritual Portals is professionally narrated by Award winning narrator for Blackstone, Ann Richardson. Also, Spiritual Portals won the New Apple Literary Award as the Solo Medalist in Spirituality and International Book Award for Best Cover.


Click here to purchase Spiritual Portals in audio format

Atlantic City Airshow 2019

The Atlantic City Air Show and its 850,000 spectators joined us as we placed our beach towels in the sand. Sitting a few yards from the ocean and directly in front of the convention center, a structure that was once the home of the Miss America Pageant, we set up in the almost 100 degrees on a bright sunny day to enjoy a show dedicated “to those who serve”.  My mind went back to my youth when my mother told stories of a horse who jumped from the iconic steel pier also in view, but at that moment an amazing formation of Geico Skytypers came zooming in front of us with a beautiful presentation just above the horizon producing smoke in the shape of the American flag.

The show was in a word, spectacular. It included US Army Golden Knights Flag jumpers with the national anthem. Their landing was so soft and with such precision it seems more like a gentle dance. The USAF Thunderbirds were exceptional and I really never heard them until directly overhead. NJ ANG 177th F16 flyby so amazing it convinced me to attend their open house the next day in EHT. I enjoyed the colors, red, white and blue from the RAF Red Arrows who wear the seal of the Queen on their uniforms and honor their national colors. Planes that fly within yards of each other are exhilarating and created in me an appreciation for the pride and practice hours that go into the aerobatics and maneuvers. The Air Force personnel assigned hold focus on one spot as they fly. This is called, spot rowers. The altitude range for the performers ranged from 15,000 ft to 5,000 ft for the Tucano and Vampire Formation Pass.

Open House at the 177th proved to be equally fascinating during our groups guided tour under the direction of Vice Wing Commander Colonel Diana Brown and Colonel Derek Routt, Operations Group Commander and a former Thunderbird Pilot. Wing Commander Colonel Bradford Everman of the 177th provides combat-ready citizen airmen, aircraft and equipment in support of the USAF.

We were taken on the tarmac to view the jets about to return to the air show. It was an up close and personal look at the amazing men and women who fly these planes. Touching the wing and sitting in the simulators only enhanced the experience. The military precision of the 177th Flight Crew in preparation for take off included a walk down, called an FOD check for foreign objects dangerous on the runway. As we made our way to the next event we were shown the parachutes known as Caterpillar unit by the crew who keep them properly ready for use. They also allowed us to wear the same helmet and mask worn by the pilots for night vision capability.

It was a wonderful honor to meet many who serve and during a short interview in front of her jet, with Captain Janelle Baron, I asked the usual question of when she knew she wanted to be a pilot. Captain Baron was encouraged at age 14 by another female pilot who mentored her. Colonel Routt explained the pilots uniform and compression, he then diverted to offer some police officers bottles of water in the 100 degree heat. Colonel Brown explained night vision equipment and handed us all ear plugs for the magnificent Thunderbird take off. They are a team, a passionate, proud and precision team operating in unison from the ground crew to the pilots and with the patriotism of men and women who serve.

Did I hear someone say it was loud? That is the sound of freedom!


“International Book Awards” Award Winning Book Cover Design 2019



Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Cover Design:


category of the 2019 International Book Awards

This book provides an in depth view to techniques, methodology and most importantly the history of modalities selected to bring the reader toward a more spiritual existence without or in combination with faith-based religions. The spiritual component to our daily lives is always a transformative path intended to create change as a result of spiritual practice.

Review of “Spiritual Portals” by Dr. George Bonner

My #1 summer book reading recommendation: Spiritual Portals A Historical Perspective portals_cover

This treasure trove of insights explains in a well researched manner the various means of Spiritual growth. I especially love Nora’s explanation on the fallacy of multitasking. In the rat race, we feel compelled by society that being busy means we are progressing forward. As evidenced by neuroscience research, the antidote to distractions and loss of focus is single-tasking.

The efficiency of single-tasking is both a time and energy saver. Everyone can benefit from the wisdom and daily applications that this book provides. We are either spiritually growing, remaining stagnant, or slowly dying. This book will rejuvenate you and enrich your understanding of the various spiritual paths whether it be Yoga, prayer, meditation, or the Japanese tea ceremony. Spiritual Portals is now available on Amazon. Please share this valuable information with others who can benefit.  -Dr. George Bonner


Groundhogs Day

Groundhogs Day and the snow is dirty on the sides of the road and the piles of ice in the shopping mall lots are nasty to navigate.

On Groundhogs Day Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early Spring! Phil did not see his shadow indicative of winter being over and Spring on the way!

The warmth of the spring sun will soon appear with longer days and the end of icy roads. The spring equinox brings with it the rebirth we crave when things begin to become oppressive. With each March the weather comes in like a lion still hovering between winter and summer. The winds are cold and the rain icy and damp and just when we can’t stand it the morning sun burns bright and the warmth is powerful. The skies turn blue with clear weather clouds and it is on that day we know spring is almost here.

Winter ends as quickly as it begins. Open the door to the great outdoors and feel the warmth of the first spring breeze. Enter the yard to explore the joys of nature during the transitional season of rebirth. The fragrant scents of the season pound the sense of smell. The honeysuckle is over powering walking near the long line of shrubs with beautiful white flowers hanging waiting to be picked and tasted by pulling the pistol and its nectar from each flower. The magnificence of the magnolia trees and the pink flowers entices us to climb up into the arms of the branches as we did as kids, innocent and loving the gentle scent from the flowing petals. The buds from the dogwood will blossom into the pinks and whites of cross like structures. Small but mighty trees with the spiritual wonders of hope. Walking slowly across the yard the buds on the huge oaks are ready to burst open with the promise of a new day, a new season, another chance.

Popping out of the ground still cold from the winter ice is the crocus, first out and proud of it. Crocus is followed by the pansies, daffodils and impatience. Warm rains help to encourage the spring growth. Everything about this warmth of the spring season prepares us for the joys of planting, weeding and watering. Encourage it. The herbs come first with careful preparation of the pots. Parsley will stand up to the cool nights so it is planted first, then the mints as we almost taste them in our teas and meats. Finally the basil, which needs more sun and warm summer nights or it will not survive.

Tending to the wildflowers and roses and rhododendron shrubs balances out the gardening, some fruits… some vegetables… some herbs. Variety is the spice of gardening and the garden comes alive in the spring. Pruning the roses, digging a plot for tomatoes and eggplant, trimming the azaleas we are outside in the fresh air enjoying the nurturing rays of the sun. Mowing the lawn and smelling the fresh cut grass, walking back and forth making beautiful lines as we follow the mower is meditative, as valuable as a walking meditation which by the way is called Kinhin in zen.

Up and down back and forth forgetting the mental chatter, the problems at the office, the decisions that need to be made, just being here and now in the present. Walking thru the gardens preparing and seeding is in the now. Notice the blue jays chattering, the cardinals and scarlet tanagers brighten up the vibrant colors of nature and the little chipmunks making chirpy sounds as they run and scamper about preparing for the new life of this spring. Be well.