Can a book of recipes capture a lifetime? My grandmother Louise, known as Ma to her family and friends, kept her recipes in a leather bound book. She hand wrote each one. She added recipe clippings from magazines which she’d take and make her own. During my last visit to Boston, I read each page, overcome by delicious memories of food, family and laughter – Sunday lunches under the grapevine with my cousins, Christmas Eve dinner for 40+ guests and beach BBQs are just a few. Her kitchen was a magical place where simple fresh ingredients were melded into my favorite dishes.When I moved to Italy seven years ago my mom gave me a book of Ma’s signature recipes. My mom hand wrote each entry. It is the most thoughtful gift that I’ve ever received. I add more family recipes to the book each season as well as my own. It is a tribute to my Italian heritage intertwined with American ingredients and Ma’s love of cooking.
Ma passed away more than 15 years ago. Cooking brings her into my kitchen. The smell of bubbling tomato sauce and freshly torn basil fill the air and I smile at my reverse journey from the U.S. to Italy, taking Italian-American recipes handed down from generation to generation and making them my own testing, tasting and retesting with authentic Italian ingredients. I am lucky.