Much of the year, I am in the country where I was born, exploring Italy’s less-traveled roads and recipes with my guests who mostly come from my adopted country, the United States. Food.Stories.Travel allows me to connect with the heart of the matter for me when it comes to food: time spent with my grandma Letizia in her kitchen and my desire to remember her through her recipes like the one for anchovies with green sauce, which I have written in her own hand.
Food is a window into the culture and any chance I get, I want to hold up this window onto my native country for my adopted country. Rachel wrote in May about how you can visit Italy even without a passport and what we do in Boston to recreate Italian conviviality and atmosphere through cooking classes and dinner parties with my Naples-born colleague Angelo Guida, who is a professional chef.
One of my favorite aspects of American is how richly mixed the culture is and the fact that you can travel, in a way, to another place from right where you are. In the last five years, I have met plenty of incredible Italian food makers and chefs – like Angelo – who live right around me here in Boston!
Just as we would on our tours in Italy, before the cooking classes, we like to emphasize Know Thy Farmer as Blue Hill and Dan Barber calls it. This has been the Italian way for centuries and we are excited to offer this close connection to the farmers and the land preceding every class and to feature their local and organic ingredients wherever possible within our authentic, traditional Italian recipes.
Many Americans know Italian food, but there are many less-known and regionally-specific recipes to be tried—opportunities to use so many more New England fresh produce and products! For instance, I love to feature zucchine alla scapece or green savory torte or green sauce…
Some of our cooking classes are in people’s homes. Others are in beautiful venues like Dedee Shattuck’s gallery in Westport. This summer, Angelo and I are offering two cooking classes in the gallery, and visiting nearby Round the Bend Farm and Eva’s Garden beforehand to collect rich stories and ingredients for the kitchen. From the farms of Massachusetts, we then “travel” to Italy.
Stories, conviviality and tasty foods and wines are the three components I look for when enjoying a meal. And eating together is the best way I have found to connect with the people who grow or make your food, with the ones around the table—now or in the past—and with yourself.
I cannot imagine anything more enriching than this. Blending flavors, cultures, traditions and the people who care about them forms a bridge that connects me straight from the heart of my old country to my new one. It inspires to me and helps me to try to be a better person—all through the simple but profound act of sharing edible gestures of love.