I have decided that I do not want an engagement ring. What I want instead is an engagement kitchen. I have never been much of a jewellery lover anyway. I thought I was not a cooking lover either, but I have discovered that I am! For those of you who have read the Summer 2012 issue (Accenti 26), you won’t be surprised by this news at all. Food has become a big part of my life. It has always been, really. Being Italian means food, food and more food. I still remember the conversations we would have during our meals when I was a child, discussing and deciding what we would eat during our next meal.
Meal planning has always been an important component of Italian everyday life, and it is an even more important part of my life now that I have emigrated from Italy. As I write this in the early morning, I am thinking about lunch and dinner, and I get up every so often to check if I have all the ingredients I need. (In case you’re curious, I am planning on making insalata caprese for lunch and calamari fritti and steamed artichokes for dinner. What do you think?)
I know it’s cliché, but we all take things for granted. I don’t think we do it on purpose; I think it just happens while we live our lives. Sometimes we get lucky in a perverse sort of way. We are put in a position or a situation, when we miss something or somebody or some place, and we realize then that it was all taken for granted. It happened to me and I am sure it has happened to you, too. Being away from home, I miss my family and friends terribly. I miss bits and pieces of my everyday life in Italy. I miss sounds, smells, times, places; and because I miss them so much, I have looked for ways to cope.
I found the answer in preparing and enjoying the food I cook. Besides making some of my family’s favourite dishes, I have also learned to make certain foods from scratch: pizza, pasta, bread, focaccia, old fashioned ragù… Every time, this virtual trip home leaves me happy and serene – and it infuses the house with comforting, reassuring and welcoming scents and sounds.
In this issue, I want to share some of this comforting and homey feeling with you. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy some of the finest scents and most flavourful fare; it is also a good time to reflect on one’s culinary experiences. The contributors in this special section have chosen to relate a personal experience about food that I am sure will leave you satisfied, and perhaps even inspire you to do some cooking. They might simply move you to sit and enjoy a glass of Italian wine with something new in mind or they might take you back to forgotten times and places and remind you of things and people you may have taken for granted. Buona lettura e buon appetito!
Giulia De Gasperi, Guest Editor
First published in Accenti Magazine, Issue 27.