Usually I tell myself things happen for a reason when something unpleasant occurs – a job I didn’t get, a man who left me, the usual annoyances of daily life. But as a staunch believer in synchronicity I do like to think that coincidences are not casual but part of a concatenation of events that lead somewhere, even if randomly.
A few months ago I joined a group called DIVE (an acronym for Italian Women Living Abroad). It came to me through the Italian Institute of Culture and in my ongoing effort to start practicing my mother tongue again I shelled out $50 and went to see what it was all about. At the monthly meetings and occasional outings these entrepreneurial women organize, I found a lot of different reasons why they all converged to Los Angeles, I made friends with some of them and was reminded how much fun Italians are. But it’s so unlike me to join groups of any kind, I wasn’t quite sure I would stick with it.
Fast forward to the past week-end and a meeting that fell in my lap thanks to the DIVE and my friend L, a Diva herself. An Italian TV producer with an impressive resume who recently relocated to LA is starting a project that requires a culinary segment and is looking for culinary content. It’s scientifically proven the best way to keep your memory sharp and your brain working as we age is to constantly learn new things, challenge yourself. Well, I am trying and this could be a fun opportunity to learn how to use what I know in a different setting.
While I am not trying to be mysterious (I will give you details once this is all up and running in a few weeks) I do need your help. I am looking for recipes. Recipes with a history, a family history, recipes that belong to where you come from, that were passed down from your mother or grandmother or cousin, recipes that are unique to your table, that you associate with a memory. If they end up getting used, I will obviously ask for your permission. As for me, I took the three tiny red notebooks my paternal grandmother left behind, marked “MINESTRE” (Pasta and Soup), “SECONDI” (Main courses) and DOLCI (Desserts) – they live in my kitchen library and every time I open them I travel back to the yellow “cucina” of my childhood. Her handwriting is elegant, the strokes of the black fountain pen she always used haven’t faded with time, her scribbles fairly indecipherable, just like my chicken scratch. Some recipes don’t even have ingredients, just the narrative of what happens when you get to the stove. Others have names of long forgotten and long dead friends: Lea’s Tea Bread, Edgarda’s Savory Bites or just descriptive titles such as “The Hard Bit” , “The Good Cookies”.
The soup I traditionally make for Christmas is stashed in these pages and I never transcribed it. Every year I find it miraculous that this 50-year-old book that has crossed an ocean and a continent is open on my kitchen counter, black ink guiding me through the steps of this once a year dish. At the end of the recipe, between brackets, it says “It’s good!”. Indeed it is.
Please mail your offerings to my e-mail address or post them here. Thank you!