Mary Taylor Simeti was born and brought up in New York City. In 1962, she went to Sicily to work as a volunteer in a community development center run by the writer and social reformer, Danilo Dolci. What was intended to be a one- or two-year interlude turned out to be a life: in 1964 she married Antonio Simeti, an agricultural economist who until his retirement taught at the University of Palermo. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Simeti and her husband now help their daughter to run the family farm, where they produce wine, olive oil and organic produce. She is the author of On Persephone's, Island: A Sicilian Journal (Knopf, 1986), a history of Sicilian food entitled Pomp and Sustenance (Knopf 1989), and co-authored Bitter Almonds (Morrow 1994), the memoir of a pastry chef who learned her trade in a convent orphanage. Her most recent book is Travels with a Medieval Queen (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2001). In addition to writing on food for the Italian public, Simeti has written travel and food articles for various American and British publications and contributed frequently to the Sunday travel section of the New York Times and to its Sophisticated Traveler supplement.