Growing up in an Italian family has always meant food, food and more food. It’s a BIG part of our lives and something that we take pride in and we love to share it with those closest to us. From preparing meals, to making homemade sausages and salami as a family, to remembering the days that I used to watch my dad make his own wine, to visits to the Van Dyken farm to pick up bushels of tomatoes for our homemade sauce and veggies for giardiniera (pickled Italian veggies)…it was always about food and good quality food.
I remember the days of grade school and opening up my lunch which 99% of the time consisted of a panino with some type of cold cut like mortadella, salami or prosciutto and cheese…stinky cheese. I would get so embarrassed and often got made fun of because my lunches were different from everyone else’s bologna and mustard or peanut butter and jelly on Wonderbread. I remember asking my parents why I couldn’t have lunches like all the other kids and they would go on and on about how happy I should be to have such a great lunch. I just figured it was a grown up thing and they just didn’t understand. My parents weren’t born here, they immigrated to Canada as adults so they obviously had no idea what it was like to go to school here and understand the Canadian culture but as I grew up I realized that wasn’t the case. My parents knew exactly what they were talking about! Entering into adulthood I came to realize that these cured meats and stinky cheeses weren’t anything to make fun of and instead were some of the most popular appetizers you would come across when visiting Italian restaurants. All of a sudden the people who would make fun of my lunches were the same people raving about the amazing imported Italian cheeses and parma prosciutto they just picked up.
My family took pride in the food they would prepare whether it was a big pot of sugo (tomato sauce) and polpette (meatballs) after Sunday mass, a venison stew using the deer my dad got hunting, or something made with their famous porcini mushrooms. They taught us the simple dishes and food were most of the time the best and most tasty. When friends and family would come visit they wouldn’t order in Chinese food but instead would bust out some homemade spicy Calabrese salami, olives, giardiniera, a few different types of cheeses and of course bread…plain and simple!
Plain and simple…that’s pretty much describes me and my cooking skills haha. I am no chef that’s for sure, I prepare simple and easy dishes and it ends there. Recently on my radio show (The Parenting Show on Talk Radio AM640 with executive producer Sandra Carusi) I had the chance to interview my fave chef…the amazing Chuck Hughes. We chatted, shared some laughs and talked about simple food made with quality ingredients which he’s all about. He spoke about life as a dad and a lot of it reminded me of my family, my parents and how I was brought up.
Last weekend I had the chance to catch up with Chuck again at The Big Feastival. We got to hang a bit, my kids got to cook with him in The Little Kitchen, we watched him do a demo in The Big Kitchen and also check him out at the Cooking School. It was awesome to see such an amazing and talented chef in action and as crazy and busy as the weekend was for him he took the time to shake hands, meet fans and pose for pictures.
Life as an entrepreneur, radio host, college instructor, voice actor and Mamma of 3 is CRAZYYYYY, crazy enough that I need these little reminders to bring me back to a different time and place. Reminders to let me know that plain and simple is and can be enough for my family. It’s time to get back to my roots and embrace the Sunday sugo over penne pasta with some veal cutlets and tomato salad…nothing fancy just good!
See ya at Pearl Jam!