Most Italians I know cook, even if they say they don’t they can always whip up something tasty, it’s in the genes.
My friend Stefy is no exception, she says she never learned to cook but meals at her table are not only delicious they are beautiful.
In Italy eating well could be qualified as a sport. It is a constant topic of conversation and everything from pasta to gelato is consistently rated and compared. Era buono (it was good), era buonissimo (it was really good), era troppo buono (it was too good – I often use this when speaking about gelato), quello era meglio (that one was better).
When times are tough in Italy, a negative economy, a corrupt government, a labyrinth of bureaucracy , the one certainty for Italians is mangiare (to eat) and of course mangiare bene (to eat well). When you can slow down and enjoy a freshly prepared meal of simple ingredients it is medication for the soul.
Stefy is an expert, her shopping list is simple and always includes fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread and meat. Her time in the kitchen seems effortless. Steaming spinaci (spinach) in the morning before starting her day or soaking ceci (chick peas) in the evening to be sautéed the next day.
Whether serving one or a group she is always ready to pull something together… fiselle topped with diced tomato and herbs, sautéed bell peppers, slightly bitter arugula seasoned with olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar, a plate of buttery prosciutto and bread fresh from the bakery (not a plastic bag). Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner food is always enjoyed on a table setting of colorful placemats and napkins with a change of plates between every course to not mix flavors.
I think she needs to open her kitchen to share her secrets of her buona cucina (good cooking). I will let you know when the courses start.
But until then take a few minutes to enjoy a few images of Stefy’s cooking and think about how you can slow down your next meal, bringing a few fresh Italian staples to the table or colorful placemats and maybe enjoying it just a little bit more.