I can still remember being a little girl and holding up my plate for a second dish of my mother’s rigatoni with homemade tomato sauce made with the fresh basil that my father had planted in the backyard…and hearing my grandmother say, “One day you’re going to wake up and be a big macaroni!”
And being the mature child that I was, I replied with, “I hope so!”
For as long as I can remember, I have adored Italian food. By the time I hit nursery school, some of my favorite meals included eggplant parmigiana, tortellinelli in brodo and spadini alla romano (okay, and pizza). While my little friends were eating Chef Boradee, I was heading into Little Italy with my family to savor the stuffed mushrooms and perciatelli filetto di pomodoro at Angelo’s on Mulberry Street.
Oh yeah, don’t forget the cannoli for dessert.
While I am proud to say that I have expanded my horizons and now enjoy food from other cultures, the truth of the matter is that I can eat Italian (no pun intended!) meals three times a day, seven days a week and never be bored. Ever. My friends don’t even bother to ask me what type of food I’m in the mood for—the answer is a given.
I’m also extremely content watching the same Italian movies over and over again. And no, I’m not talking about the foreign movies with the subtitles (but for those of you who had initially thought this, thank you for thinking I’m that sophisticated!). I’m talking about “the staples”—The Godfather, Goodfellas, Moonstruck, and Rocky (a.k.a. The Italian Stallion). Those movie marathons on the cable stations are the best…a rainy Sunday plus a bowl of pasta and The Godfather trilogy makes for a perfect six hours (nine if I have the patience to sit through The Godfather 3).
And The Sopranos…fugghet about it!
My love for Italian food has also provided me with a hobby—cooking Italian food. Soon I’ll need a bigger kitchen just to be able to hold the number of cookbooks I’ve collected over the years, like The Classic Italian Cookbook, The Complete Cookbook: Pasta, Rocco’s 5-Minute Flavor, Secrets of Fat-Free Italian Cooking (alright, give me a break—I can’t always indulge my cravings! Besides, I’m a health and diet writer in my “other” life, so sometimes I need to practice what I preach!), Entertaining with The Sopranos, and, last but not least…The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run by Henry Hill. Hey, who better to offer authentic Italian recipes than a former mobster? It’s like what Clemenza said to Michael in The Godfather: “Hey, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic…”
I have to admit—I stole this cooking tidbit from Clemenza. Just about everything tastes better with olive oil and garlic. Fish, vegetables, chicken, eggs…hell, I even use olive oil when I bake! (No garlic. Something tells me that’s a no-no.)
So while I’m not a chef, a food critic or even a movie critic, I am a self-proclaimed lifelong fan of anything Italian. I’m more than excited to share my favorite recipes, restaurant reviews, celebrity sightings and encounters and weekly shopping excursion at Jerry’s Gourmet in Englewood, NJ—an Italian food store that gladly offers samples to their patrons. They possess the true Italian spirit: When it comes to food, it’s all about sharing. And eating some more.
After all, my goal is still to turn into a big macaroni…