madonna del piatto Profile
everyday good Italian food
I am Italian and I love to travel and cook. I live on a magical mountain overlooking the green hills of Umbria, in central Italy. I like - immodestly - to see myself as an alchemist. I started my professional life as a research entomologist, studying the intricacies of chemical signals among insects and plants. Now, together with my family I welcome people to our farmhouse in Umbria try to teach simple of Italian home food. Isn't that magical? Bringing people together around wonderful wholesome food, it really is like alchemy.
I feel like I have been cooking forever and it is almost true. As I kid I lived in a central area of Perugia, my hometown. At that time it was perfectly safe not only to walk alone to school, but to return home before my parents went back from their office jobs.
As a 6 years old I already knew how to switch on the fire under the pasta pan. By the time my parents where back, the water would be boiling and we were able to eat quickly. We had pasta for lunch on working days. Roast chicken with potatoes on Sundays.
If our everyday meals were low profile, holidays were an entire different experience. In fact, a gastronomic extravaganza.
Half of my extended family is Sicilian and most of them live in Umbria. For Christmas or Easter, it was not unusual to have large parties of 15-20 people.
At each of these occasions, not only my mother, but all my Sicilian aunts and some uncles embarked in a sort of food contest. The contest functioned as follows:
1) each day of a holiday would be spent at a different house, i.e. Christmas at our house, New year’s Eve at zia Ida’s, New Year’s day at zia Anna and so forth
2) each day there would be a multicourse lunch or dinner
3) each meal would be different from the previous
There was no winner to the contest as all were wonderful cooks. These celebrations happened throughout my childhood and I remember them as an almost magical experience. There was no separate food for us kids. No junk food, no sodas. We were served a feast of elaborated dishes, all homemade, the results of the hard work the week preceeding the holiday. Images of crostini with chicken liver paté, lasagne, pasta incasciata, cardoons, veal rolls, stuffed pigeon, all sort of roast meat, big bowls of fresh salad, piles of sliced panettone, baskets of mandarins and nuts, all is impressed in my mind as a dream
So, my cooking school was my family. My inspiration is what is fresh and seasonal. And even though I love traditional Italian holiday dishes, I favor what can be done quickly after a long day of work. I cook everyday.
- Il Talismano della Felicita’ (Ada Boni)
- the bible of traditional Italian food
- Made in Italy: food and stories (Giorgio Locatelli)
- modern Italian cusine made easy
- Complete Italian Food (Antonio Carluccio)
- a dictionary of everything you need to know about Italian Ingredients
Restaurants I Recommend
- lots of them
- but you need to come to Italy!