Recipes and food from an anglo exiled in Italy and beyond. This is my home cooking, updated day by day as I cook – classic english comfort food mixed with the Mediterranean influences of my adopted country.
The concept of processed food really doesn’t exist in Italy. There are no supermarket aisles full of gastropub ready meals, no ready-packaged sandwiches or fruit salad, no double-chocolate cinnamon muesli with extra fruity bits. Italians appreciate good, natural foods and they really don’t like over-rich or over-sweet “products”. Nutella is about as sinful as it gets. Here, I have the luxury of shopping as I remember it from my childhood (not that long ago thank you, in Wales) – I walk a few hundred metres around my home and can choose from a couple of butchers, two bakeries, a fruit and vegetable shop, a cheese shop, a shop selling nothing but fresh pasta, a whole food shop… Yes, there are supermarkets, but most people are shopping for household items and using baskets. Contrast this with my parents, who live in a market town in the UK, but who are constrained to do a massive two-weekly shop because the nearest decent supermarket is on the ring road.
So this is the background to my cooking. I don’t use fancy ingredients, because there really aren’t any. I do bring a few baking items over from the UK (soft brown sugar, treacle, golden syrup, cream of tartar), but for the most part I use what is on hand, i.e. what is in season. And I talk to my boys at the fruttivendolo about what’s good right now, I talk to the signore at the butchers to swap cooking tips. It’s a million miles away from the plastic Tesco experience, where you can pile your trolley high and pay without ever making eye contact. Sure, it takes more time, but it’s far more human – I like it the Italian way, and long may it continue.
You can read more about my partly-italian life on my main blog zoejessica.com.