There’s a lot of talk, and probably too many books, about food. Bookshops overflow with cookbooks ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous - a vast, intimidating edifice of knowledge that can strike fear, or at least circumspection, in those who wish to explore it. A simple and vital function like eating thus assumes disproportionate significance. Instead of making someone happy by preparing them a tasty meal, we complicate this loving act by piling on lashings of subtexts and agendas. I’d like in this book to go against that trend and restore to food its affectionate and domestic character, by describing food as I got to know it. The smells of cooking in people’s kitchens that I treasure. I come from a family that combines two marvelous local cuisines that are in strong contrast with one another. In terms of tradition and taste. The cooking of Emilia, sumptuous and rich in fat, and that of Liguria, austere in comparison, almost Calvinistic, but equally full of unexpected delights. These fonts of knowledge were blended by the skilful hands of my mother, under the beady blue eyes of my father, incorruptible supervisor and inflexible critic. We grow up in the kitchen. We lick our fingers, steal, relax in the warmth of the stove, draw on misty windows in the winter, learn poems by heart – sheltered by the aroma of some surprise that’s cooking. So the idea is to take you, if you will let me, to places where I’ve been, where I grew up and where adults introduced kids to the world of flavour by using the most effective of tools – affection. I’d like this book to be a little life raft in the stormy ocean of global cooking, a tiny haven sheltered from the imposition of originality at all costs. I’d like it to help readers re-discover all the consolatory force of simple spaghetti with tomato sauce. Through recipes and portraits, I’ve tried to present the people who left a mark in what I call my “gastronomic sentimental” education, a process that’s grown beyond the family
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