The Italian Food Heritage Program
Since the website, in its new version, has been launched, I have been receiving many emails and messages; some of them are congratulatory, some are just friendly notes of appreciation, a few requests have been made for future episodes and recipes to be featured on these pages…
I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the transition from my old blog to this more refined and updated platform, and so it seems are most of you visiting my virtual kitchen.
Something happened though, in the past few weeks, that made a light bulb go off in my head.
As I was collecting all the mails and messages I received, and organizing them for my future reference, I encountered a common denominator I could not let slip through the cracks of my archival process: your family heritage!
Without even thinking about it, I seemingly tapped into a matter that is very important to most of you that have been visiting the site, cooking my family recipes, reading about how I became who I am in my kitchen… but mostly how I am trying to pass on what I learned from my mother and grandmother to my wife and daughters.
I am talking about your own Family Tradition of Food and Life in the Kitchen!
Many of the messages I received lately are not just simple appreciations for the food I am proposing you to cook, but more deeply, they are sincere thank you messages for the way I helped many of you remember how your family “Used To Cook”, the way the kitchen used to smell when you grew up and your granny was in front of the stove…
“Now I know why my grandfather used to cook this way! It is the way we always did it, but we never knew why.”, or “You made me remember of when I used to visit my family in Sicily, and my grandmother used to store her jars of Limoncello in the closet… I was five years old and thought it was lemonade.”, and again “Thank you for helping me re-create in the kitchen the flavors I grew up with… I thought they were lost forever”.
I never thought it that way, I am safe in that department, as I can pretty much prepare any dish my family has ever cooked… in my mouth food still tastes the same way it did when I was a little kid.
All of a sudden, I started thinking: What if I could help people track down their own family recipes? Those recipes they grew up with that no longer exists in their kitchen, the flavors that a few decades ago meant “comfort” and “family love” and now are just a faded idea they do not know how to bring back to life.
As if I did not have enough on my plate these days, I decided to launch with this post an extensive search for old Italian Recipes, you know, the recipes that came off the boat at Ellis Island a century ago, and started being cooked all over the East Coast: the recipes your “Great Grandmothers” and “Grandmothers” cooked for you… but now no more. Some of you might have those recipes, some of you might be looking for them, some of you might just wonder if what they have is the real deal… if that was the way they were traditionally, before they left the Old Country.
My idea is pretty straight forward: WRITE ME!
Ask me what you are looking for, and tell me what you already know about that specific recipe. I will try to track it down and give it back to you in all it’s old glory.
I am already deeply emotionally involved with this new spin-off on Under The Tuscan Gun, even if I still do not know what will be the media output that I will use for it… what will fit best. I think I will just keep it true to the way we’ve been doing things in here, baby steps. Definitely some recipes will become episodes and will be posted online, but my dream situation would be to be able to go find some grandmas around Italy, and re-live with them those recipes and kitchen moments that have been keeping entire families together, for many generations, at the dining table sharing tradition, values, food and always an honest wine. It will be a sort of “Genome Project” dedicated to Italian Food, and I will do my best to validate my research with actual facts, informations about the territory and historical references concerning every recipe.
I am sure that moving back to Italy will absolutely help my quest; I am still hoping for the St. Joseph we buried in our front yard to pull off his miracle and help us sell our house here in Los Angeles.
Let the “Italian Food Heritage Program” begin!