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How It All Started

I made my public debut in second grade with my bake-sale-knockout blonde brownie recipe.

There are lots of things that make Italian American families iconic in their own way: loud talking, big families, big hand gestures, overwhelmingly large family reunions… We do everything “big,” as a general rule. What we do biggest and best of all, though, is food.

My Nana was born and raised in Brooklyn to immigrant parents and alongside 12 siblings. She was a flame of the Old Brooklyn Italian variety, full of life and color. That vivacity and spice was just as easily found in her cooking as it was in her personality. When I was a kid, both of my parents worked, so my Nana and Poppa took care of me. I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can’t be in an Italian household very long without learning how to make food.

By the age of three, I was already baking cookies at Christmastime (and anytime!) and helping Nana prepare meals. I helped make pasta, soup, roasts, cookies, pies, cakes – you name it. We were an unstoppable cooking duo. I even had my own toddler-sized rolling pin (and I still have it)!

When I was around six years old, my mom left her full-time office job to be a full-time at-home mother. While Nana had a mental recipe repertoire big enough to fill a bookshelf, my mom took the more freestyle approach to cooking, looking at recipes and then spinning them to her liking. As I got older, I gave her style a try. Initially, I would mix spice blends in empty tea tins. I learned how things smelled, what went well together, and eventually, what spices mixed well with other ingredients. It was a bumpy and imperfect road, but I’m constantly getting better at it.

Now that I’m on my own, away from my predominant maternal influences (though I like to think that Nana will always be with me, guiding me in the kitchen in spirit), I’ve set out on my own adventure of trying new foods from around the world and making my own recipes as I go. My fearless and tenacious taste-tester, who operates on this blog under the alias of “The Boyfriend,” is always there to tell me if something is good… or… not so good. Like I said: bumpy road.

Now out of college and moving into the real world, I’m taking the pet project up to the big leagues (or trying to anyway). There will be some format changes and style shifts along the way, but no matter how it’s presented, there will always be good food for you, dear readers, and anyone who comes to my table to enjoy. So, as Nana would have it, let’s get cooking, and when we’re done, mangia!

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