"Vincent Scordo '98 has a family history that's common to many immigrants to the United States. His parents fled a failing economy in their native Italy for the rich shores of America; they settled just outside New York City on a block shared by other immigrant families, including five from their hometown. Scordo was raised on frugal living, good food, and a deep love of his homeland, which he visited every summer.
And in 2008, Scordo did what any proud tech-savvy Italian-American would do: He started a blog, rendering the spirit of his family's rural Calabrian homeland with pixels and analytics.
"Writing this blog is about keeping these old-world cultures alive," says Scordo.
Subtitled "The Italian life for everyone," Scordo.com is both a love song to Italy and a mouthpiece for his passion for Italian cooking and lifestyle. On it, he serves up an almost-daily dose of honey-washed photographs of Italy, the practical frugality that runs through the immigrant experience, and lots and lots of recipes. Scordo also shares family stories both poignant and amusing—his parents' role in the importing of American convenience foods to their hometown of Pellegrina, for instance, or the annual smuggling of his grandfather's homemade olive oil through Kennedy Airport ("Dad told me when the dogs start barking, just smile and run," he says.)
Acknowledging that Tony Soprano, "The Jersey Shore," and their media brethren from generations past threaten to reduce the Italian American experience to one of organized crime dripping in hair gel and tomato sauce, Scordo muses that the Italian life he promotes embraces "food, family, friends, and enjoying deep and meaningful experiences every day."
Among his more popular blog entries are how-tos for making everything from authentic tomato sauce to arancini, Italian rice balls, to home-brewed espresso he boasts will spoil you for Starbucks forever. A steady drumbeat of careful home economics propels many entries, with posts like "Why You Should Not Eat Out" and many recipes empowering readers to create restaurant-quality food in their own kitchens.
Scordo calls his blog's audience "good and growing": Scordo.com boasts up to 5,000 page-views each day, of which 2,000 are unique, and 10 to 15 comments per article. "That's what running a blog is about, getting comments from all over the world saying, 'my mother used to cook like that,'" he says. Scordo.com "cross-pollinates" with other Italian-focused bloggers such as Bleeding Espresso, Italyogue, and My Bella Vita, and he plies social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Stumblupon with successful results.
The blog is a labor of love for Scordo, who spends up to two hours per day writing new entries and engaging with commenters. His day job, as a Web marketing manager for Consumer Reports, informs the "business" side of his blog, as he closely monitors his readership analytics and tweaks content to boost engagement. He says Scordo.com is neither a money-maker nor a major expense, although it has its perks, such as sampling Italian food sent to him by publicity-seeking manufacturers.
"It's a challenge not to be too promotional. People want legitimacy when they're reading blogs," he says.
Scordo's UNH experience, like his blog, blended practicality with romanticism. He was initially drawn to the university because "the campus smelled really good," he says, adding that by good, he means fertilizer. "Rural life has always been in my blood." Once on campus, he pursued his philosophy major with vigor, sparking an ongoing friendship with professor Willem deVries and intending to pursue a Ph.D. in the subject.
Yet it was his work-study job at the Climate Change Research Center, where he maintained websites, that bolstered the skills that set him on a career path more lucrative than the life of the mind.
"The practical side of me is stronger than the romantic side," he says.
His philosophy degree has served him well on Scordo.com, though, and not only for thought-heavy posts like "How to Lead a Happy Life or Live Like an Italian" or "Why Food Experts Don't Matter and the Philosophy of 30 Minute Meals." Philosophy, says Scordo, taught him to write well, think critically, position thoughts, string ideas together.
"The degree is great for a blog," he says.
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