I’ve heard a few times recently that people thought I really disliked them at first. If you’re one of those people who told me that, I swear this post isn’t just about you. In fact, if I’d heard it only once, I’d probably dismiss it. But now that it’s come up a few times, I had to start thinking. Of course the upside is that usually people come to realize I’m pretty nice once we get to know each other. But still, it worries me a little. I’ve never been someone who craved acceptance. On the other hand, I hate to think I’m alienating people from the first moment we meet. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. Self-awareness. I’ve got to work on it. Okay, maybe I have a few friends who didn’t get this impression of me at first. (C’mon Alicia and Tricia, back me up!) But I’m wondering now about all of the people I’ve met who just wrote me off because I seemed a little distant or aloof and translated that into something very negative.
How is this post related to Italian food? I’m not sure, except that for me, food brings people together. I’ve said before that’s probably why I’m not cooking a lot at home lately, because of some life changes and because I want the eating part to be a shared experience. So why do I cook Italian so often at home? Well, I’m half-Italian, which not a lot of people know because it doesn’t fit my last name very well. But I didn’t grow up at my Italian grandmother’s side, simmering the ragu all day long. No, my interest in Italian food came late. I guess for one thing, it’s instinctual cooking. I could honestly live on pasta, so once I get a pot of boiling water going, the rest comes easy. I mostly start with olive oil, sometimes crushed red pepper, always garlic, and then tomatoes. (Yes, I know we’re all about farm-fresh food, but I love canned Italian tomatoes.) From there, it’s all improvised, and to me that is real cooking. Maybe I cook down some onions and add capers later. With a little cream and Parmesan, I could make something more luscious. Start with some pancetta? Or maybe some sausage? Finish with basil or parsley… of course. Shrimp is a great add-in. Today I kept it simple and made use of some of the free Lindsay olives I’d taken home from Eat Write Retreat. I added a sprinkle of amazing balsamic vinegar at the end, just enough to brighten it up. No recipes, just fun in the kitchen. That’s why I cook Italian.