When people hear our love story it is just a bit too dreamy and well, Italian. He caught my attention with a bowl of spaghetti. Our date was set, we would meet at his apartment, he would cook for me, we would go to the opera.
I did what any woman would do going to the opera, I bought a new dress, and I brought fresh herbs, sparkling juice (in my religion we don’t drink alcohol) and some garden hand-picked, by me, tomatoes.
He asked me before I came if I had any food allergies or intolerance. I told him only one–soy. I didn’t mention; garlic, tomatoes, onions, dairy. How could I tell an Italian I couldn’t eat the very foundation of his cuisine? I armed myself with a plentiful supply of simethicone drops and breath mints and prayed all would go well.
I arrived at his apartment and he greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, something that I hadn’t let any other man do yet since my divorce–I forgot that this is customary for Italians to do when they greet others.
Everything flowed so well. We didn’t have much time and so we got right to business. He did the most romantic gesture any man has ever done for me before. He TIED MY APRON on! Then we started cooking–or should I say, he started cooking and I watched. I mainly watched his hands. They moved quickly, methodically and gracefully. Chopping parsley, smashing the garlic and then quickly mincing it faster than I knew was possible. He gave me one assignment–dice the tomatoes. As I diced the tomatoes, he managed to boil the water, set the table, finish prepping everything else and I had only finished two tomatoes. He came over and asked if I would like any help. I handed him the knife. He took it and I watched this man dice the tomatoes like someone dicing butter. It was fast, smooth, and I wished I had not offered to dice the tomatoes. I also wished he had not stopped. It was so attractive! I guess you can say he had me at first dice, not first bite. This man had skills and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better!
Within 20 minutes he manages to make us a gourmet Italian meal. Spaghetti aglio e olio con i gamberi , and salad. There was no need for dessert, it was that amazing! I had no idea Italian food could be so delicious, refreshing, and full of flavor and with so few ingredients.
That night we drove come i pirati (like pirates–which is to say blazing) to the opera, we held hands, and when I got home I downloaded an app to learn Italian. I never looked back.
This first dish on this first date was the beginning of my culinary journey into the land of Italian cuisine. I am now a self proclaimed olive oil snob and gelato obsessed american. My taste buds and cellular structure have continued to evolve and change to the point that I look more Italian than my husband and I cook and relish in wholesome, love-filled, homey southern Italian dishes. If it has 5 ingredients or less, even better! Amazing Italian in under 20 minutes is the motto my husband and I try to stick by if possible.
I have to give credit where credit is due. My love is who I learned to cook Italian cuisine from. He is the brains, the heart, the hands and the home of my knowledge. His mother is his culinary tutor and her mother was hers and so the story continues back and back.
In Italy such was and is the tradition.
We are the last link for my mother-in-law’s family and my love and I have decided to make it our quest to preserve the heritage and untold stories that were passed down through the hands and kitchens of the nonnas (grandmas) of our family.
Throughout this blog you will see recipes, stories, Italian vocabulary, videos, and I have a page dedicated to a list of my classes so you can join us sometime. Even if you don’t like to cook, come along. After all, 6 years ago, I could barely dice a tomato……
I hope you will gain a love for the people, the culture and the cuisine of Italy. IT is beautiful, colorful, and so full of passion and love.
Buon appettito! (enjoy your meal, or good appetite!)