Melissa - Italy
“I love, that the central figure so important to Italian cuisine is not a chef, but rather that most venerable of home cooks, La Nonna. Her’s is the gold standard against which all other dishes will be measured.”
I was born and raised right here in Vancouver!
While I was born in Canada, I come from a family of immigrants. My dad came to Canada from Gubbio – a small town in Umbria, Italy when he was 12. My mom was also born in Vancouver but her parents came from Northern Italy and Denmark respectively. All this to say, I was lucky enough to be raised with both pasta and akavit! We are a very close family and have strong ties to our relatives in Italy. I took my first trip to Italy when I was 4 and I haven’t ever stopped – in fact, I love Italy so much, I moved there after graduating from university in 2007.
Food has always been central to our family life and my Nonna was an amazing cook. Some of my earliest memories are standing next to my Nonna rolling out gnocchi dough into ropes while she stood close by complaining that we were rolling them too thin!
My absolute favourite thing to do is to have friends and family over for dinner and I love trying to recreate the meals that live on in our collective family memory and to tell the stories associated with each dish. I also love telling people where to get the best Italian products…you’ll be surprised at some of the locations!
I have to say salt! Salt has such a bad rap but used properly, it is one of the things that can really elevate a dish. Umbrian food is so very simple…but it is seasoned in such a way that makes it delicious.
I hesitate to call Italian food a cuisine. While it certainly can be refined, there are just so many regional variations it is hard to put it in a box. I guess what makes it so difficult to label is what makes it so special – every region is distinct so there are many more delicious dishes to explore! I also love, that the central figure so important to Italian cuisine is not a chef, but rather that most venerable of home cooks, La Nonna. Her’s is the gold standard against which all other dishes will be measured.
Ask and listen. Talk. Get people to tell you their family recipes. Find a community, learn from them, add your own spin and tell your own story. However it turns out, you can be sure it will be delicious!
"The Italian experience with Melissa was more than I expected. From the start she welcomed us into her home with open arms and a big smile and shared her family's stories, recipes and Italian culture. I left with a happy belly and feeling like I had been given a big warm hug from my Nonna!" Selena P. Nanaimo