my love of cooking is born of my love of eating.
i love food, good food, fresh and tasty, made with love and honesty, preferably made slowly.
tonight i made spinach and ricotta gnocchi with a roasted tomato sauce.
the recipe (with a few tweaks to add my own stamp) can be found here.
it tasted so good.
i don't know what makes good food so enjoyable, maybe it's the pleasure of sharing the cooking and the eating with a loving family, maybe it's the effort that goes into the process of making each little gnocchi dumpling by hand, maybe it's the pleasure of using fresh eggs and produce from the garden, or perhaps it's the memories of people who have influenced my cooking history. often i remember people who have shared recipes or meals with us. sometimes i am reminded of people who have given me kitchen utensils or cookbooks.
when i make pasta or dumplings i use a cranky old tin tray to line up the handmade pieces prior to cooking them.
whenever i use that cranky old tin tray i remember antionetta. she was a tiny old italian lady who lived across the road from us for many years until her death some 7-8 years ago. she had been a widow for 15 years or more, she spoke very limited english, she lived alone and spent many long days on her veranda looking out onto the street. she loved company and often dragged us over for lukewarm cups of tea with way too much milk in it and biscuits that were many years past their best by date. she would bully us into drinking the tea and eating the biscuits, she would not take no for an answer. she would always take us on lengthy tours of her house telling us her family history, always in italian. she was self sufficient and often gifted us with fruit from her garden. she would always remember us at christmas and easter and deliver little gifts for us and the children. one year she gave me a shiny red tin tray. that tray is now scratched and the paint peels off in large red flakes. i cover it with baking paper so that the paint doesn't contaminate our food. the mister thinks it belongs in the bin but i wont part with it.
antionetta's much loved home has gone now. it stood empty for several years with a wilted, dried out rose on the flyscreen door. the flower was placed there on the day of her funeral when her family took her casket on a final drive by past her home. the house was sold and pulled down to make way for a shiny new home with a shiny new family.
i love using that old tray and remembering nonna when i use it.
i think that is what makes the food taste so good.