It’s the day after Mother’s Day and I am reflecting on my own mother and the things she has taught me. As I am getting ready to publish my first cookbook, there are many stories, many of which are related to cooking and food… but this is the one that makes me smile most…
I started baking at the age of 11 years. I read cookbooks from the library, like a book, cover to cover. I never started to cook savory dishes until much later…
My mother is a fabulous cook, so most of our conversations took place in the kitchen. My Mother is a very precise cook, unlike me. She would perfect a cookie recipe right down to the pan and brand of ingredients. Once she perfected it, it was always recreated exactly the same. It was hard for her to teach us a lot of her recipes because some of it was written down and some of it was just by memory. By the time I was a teenager we settled into a regular weekend routine. My Mom would make a beautiful, authentic, Italian Sunday Pranzo (formal Italian lunch) and I would make some elaborate dessert from my latest cookbook. My four brothers were the perfect taste testers. I quickly gained confidence.
At the young age of 21 years, I got married. A couple of months before the wedding my mother told me I needed to learn to cook, so I would help her prepare Sunday lunch from now on! A few weeks in she quickly recognized that I had been paying attention and I could, in fact, cook as well as bake! We went back to our usual routine, much to my brothers’ delight….
Once I got married and moved away from home, I finally had my own kitchen. I remember planning our first meal as husband and wife on the day after we got home from our honeymoon. Roast chicken, potatoes, and vegetables. Well, I quickly realized while driving home from work at 6 pm I was going to have to pick up a rotisserie chicken in place of my homecooked chicken….if we wanted to eat anytime soon….
I soon realized that my mom was the quickest, easiest source of information for meal planning and execution. So regularly I would call her with questions about meal planning, family recipes, which ingredients to buy etc. After the meal, she always got a follow-up phone call discussing what worked and what didn’t. The reply often, from my perfectionist mother was; “Next time, do it this way…..”.
On one particular occasion, I decided I was going to make fresh pasta for the first time on my own. My aunts had gifted me a manual pasta machine as a housewarming gift when we bought our first house. (I still use it to this day in my school!) So I made the call….”Mom, what is your fresh pasta recipe?” Her reply….”Well, you know that blue bowl? I fill it up with flour, not full like a mountain, but more like a hill…” And so it began….”weekends with Mamma”. Me with my scale, measuring cups and spoons and my Mom with her wonderful ad-lib recipes and food memories….
This, my friends, is when I decided that I needed to start recording these recipes. Originally, just for family…I would have never guessed all those years ago that some of those recipes would be precious additions to my first cookbook!
Presales of my cookbook starting this week!
Caio for now, Natalina