— Tea&Biscotti (@TeaandBiscotti) April 26, 2012
Whilst watching Two Greedy Italians with one eye and keeping a check on Twitter with the other, I noticed that @CarlucciosCafe were running a little competition. I entered. I won and today I received my lovely new shiny cook book.
This week I have scorned my husband for feeding our ten month old daughter pizza. He claims its fine as its homemade and in Italy, children eat what their parents eat. I claim it’s not fine as the dough is laced with salt, it’s dripping in cheese and well, there’s lots of dough. Admittedly, it was only about 2 mouth fulls but the fact he thinks that’s fine horrified me. Tell me I’m wrong, but it’s not right to be serving a plate of carbs to a ten month old.
My mother is worried I might “deprive” her. How deprived can a ten month old be? When she’s a bit older she can have the odd bit of cake, the odd sweetie or hot chocolate but for now, she’s a baby and doesn’t need to be introduced to a lot of things. It’s just not necessary.
Italians nurture their children to eat well. Everything is home-made. Vegetables are picked, bought and cooked on the same day. Fresh. Cheese is bought from a local dairy. Mozzarella is best eaten when it’s barely out of the cow. Pasta is more than a bow or a twist and ice cream is eaten every day of the year no matter what the weather.
I agree with Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio of Two Greedy Italians, one of my favourite TV shows, that children are precious are Italy. Parents have time for them. They devote time to them. I am devoted to Bambina. I want her to eat well, home-made, fresh, wholesome food. I want to her to experience an Italian attitude to food. I want her to know that her meals are cooked using fresh ingredients. I want her to sit at the dinner table for every meal – TV off for dinner. I will teach her to cook. I will teach her table manners. I will teach her to love her heritage and embrace it, to make tomato sauce with her Nonna, to make biscotti with her Zia, eat gelato with her Cugina and learn how to set the table properly with her Nonno. You see, at meal times in Italy, everyone has a duty. Bambina will have hers too.
A few episodes ago, the Two Greedy Italians visited a school were the children only eat snacks from the vending machine. Italian traditions are changing. In more rural areas, some schools don’t have a canteen and don’t provide school dinners as the children are used to going home to be fed by their mother or grandma.
Nowadays, more mothers have to work so they’re not at home to cook. The schools don’t have canteens and this means the children eat on the go and as such Italy is slowly facing its first sign of a junk food nation.
Every time my mother-in-law sees Bambina on Skype, the first thing she says is “stellina mia, cosa hai mangiato oggi?” (my little star, what did you eat today?). Every day requires a run through of every morsel as though to comply with the mother-in-law’s standards. I’m happy to say that so far, I pass the test.
And now that I have my brand spanking new, signed by Carluccio, copy of ‘Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy’, I will continue with my quest of being an excellent (English) Italian wife. I will use this book like the Bible. I’ll devour every word. I’ll make sure my husband and daughter eat well and I will tell Bambina that Contaldo and Carluccio taught her mother that she is a fine example of Una Bella Figura!
* Photographs for the book were taken by David Loftus