I am not Italian, far from it, I’m from Yorkshire, but having worked with Italians for many years, seen them cook, eat and enjoy the foods of their country, listened to their stories of growing up in Italy, hearing their memories of the food and celebrations of their childhood, makes me wish I had been brought up the Italian way. If you were to ask my friends or family, they will tell you that I am obsessed with Italian food, but in my defence, who could not fall in love with a food culture so full of history and tradition, so absorbing and so totally fascinating.
I guess one of the good things about my approach to Italian food is, that as a kind of ‘faux Italian’, I have no loyalties to any particular region of Italy. One of the main problems I have found with Italian food is that Italians never consider themselves as Italian, they are Tuscan, Calabrese, Sicilian or Sardo . . . never just Italian. Every Italian is an authority on food, it is second nature to be able to talk, and very often argue, both informatively and passionately about the food of their region, their town, their family and probably most important and influentially, their “mamma”.
This is why I find Italian food so fascinating, the passion with which all Italians can prepare and speak about food is so endearing and infectious, to listen to them speak about the dishes of their region just makes you want to eat it.