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About Me

I was raised by a family of unknowingly great cooks. Nonni, genitori, zii and cugini (grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles and cousins) who chose to celebrate their traditional Italian cuisine, cooking it week after week, giving me an intense appreciation for good food that’s easy to make, nutritious and above all flavoursome.

This cookbook journey did not begin with a childhood yearning to be a cook or a chef. I appreciated cooking but probably didn’t get to do much of it because mum, dad and my nonni were always in the kitchen preparing amazing meals for the family. I also always felt a little apprehension- could anything I cook really be as good as nonna’s or my mums’ food?  

As life would have it, there came a turning point where I wanted to learn how, and it became apparent that I had to ‘step up to the plate’. I became passionate about learning the recipes I grew up with and feared that they would be lost if I didn’t keep them alive in my family.

I started becoming curious and asking questions and what I discovered was that the cooking part wasn’t so hard. The basics of Italian cooking were already instilled in me through years of exposure to smell, taste and sight.

I started by first collecting recipes from my nonni, mum and dad. If I was lucky, they were handwritten (but rarely), but mostly I spent my time around the stove or the kitchen bench extracting recipes from their heads. I watched and wrote down and asked questions as they worked on autopilot, recreating dishes that they had perfected through practice; they were doing what was taught to them. I would ask them for step by step instructions, measurements, and even the most obvious questions, silly or not. Mum was great at answering the questions. Dad would roll his eyes as if all the answers were obvious, and nonna would show me her half cupped hand to demonstrate the measurements and quantities. You see, most Italians from a certain generation cook ’ad occhio’, meaning ‘by eye’ and also by the way it feels.  It’s the way traditional Italian cooking is learnt. It’s the art of knowing ‘by eye’ when something needs more or when you need to stop.

To give you some context around the regions in Italy that inspired the recipes in this book, let me explain.

My parents and grandparents were all born in Campania.
My maternal side is from Gesualdo, in the province of Avellino.
My paternal side from Vallo Della Lucania and Novi Velia, in the province of Salerno

It was a memorable family holiday to Campania, visiting my parent’s hometowns that sparked the idea for the cookbook.  As well as their home towns, we also explored the Amalfi Coast.  Popular areas like Positano, Amalfi and Ravello and the lesser-known ‘touristy’ towns of Maiori and Minori where we were treated like real locals because of my dad’s Neapolitan accent. Like any Italian family on holidays, our whole trip revolved around food, and we indulged in all the traditional foods of the towns whilst also discovering new delicacies.

Following that trip, I decided to spend some hours in the kitchen with my parents, actually so many hours I lost count. 

The final result; A cookbook of 70 recipes of ‘food memories’ to keep these dishes alive for the next generation. 

It has been a labour of love decoding these recipes for you to share with your family and for me to pass on to my three girls, and I look forward to watching you create your own ‘food memories’ and sharing them with family and friends. Feel free to share your stories with me @thelittleitaliancook.


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