As one of my favourite cookbook authors Tessa Kiros writes of her Italian Husband, “a bowl of pasta sets things right” – I wholeheartedly agree.
I lived and worked in the Mediterranean for 8 years as a young chef aboard private sailing yachts; during that time, I was lucky enough to work for a wonderful Italian family, which allowed me to learn at the very heart of Italian cooking… an experience that forever changed me.
I remember walking into the markets in Sicily early one morning and being serenaded by a fishmonger and a farmer both singing about their fish & tomatoes & love of food – what joy – I’d finally met people who cared as deeply about food as I did, you could literally feel it, hear it, smell it and taste it everywhere. Arriving in Italy was always such a relief for me, a space and a validation of sorts for my own fiery food passion; here was an entire nation of people who cared as much about how they grew and produced their food as they did about the taste, texture and techniques in a dish, cooking in Italy was like a wonderland for me full of some of the best food memories of my life.
There are rules, intentional steps and ingredients; simplistic cooking requires the absolute best quality ingredients – how you grow food determines the taste and is as important as how you cook it. Such a great lesson that rings true everywhere – I encourage you to pause and think about the ingredients you need, where they come from, and how they were grown. Try always to buy the best – the best does not mean the most expensive the best is usually what is local and seasonal or was made intentionally with quality seasonal products or ingredients like canned San Marzano Tomatoes – these are the best!