See who’s dishin’ Italian! Born and raised in Binghamton, NY, I come from a long line of Neapolitan Italian cooks. My story, and that of Linda’s Italian Table, truly began over a century ago in 1905 in Casale di Carinola, Italy, a small town near Naples, where my father, Attilio, was born. At age 7, he journeyed across the Atlantic, with his family, to Ellis Island aboard the ship, “The Stampalia”, joining his father, Arcangelo, a butcher, by trade. As he grew, Attilio learned much about meat and cooking from his father, who learned from his father…you get the idea.
In 1926, he married Loretta, whose family came from Minturno, Italy. They loved to cook and often worked together on a small round table in our tiny kitchen in Binghamton. With loving hands and much animation, they made delicious memories for the family from the incredible dishes of our heritage from the Lazio and Campania regions. In that small space, the family celebrated each day by gathering together around a meal. Every meal was an event – every event a joyful and noisy gathering of family and friends around a table laden with Italian tradition.
This was the foundation for Linda’s Italian Table. I learned daily from watching my mother and father create magic in the kitchen fashioning doughs, pastas, and making rich sauces without rigid recipes. It was there that sausage, stuffed breads, seafood delicacies and pastries of all kinds became the bounty from which wonderful meals originated that would sometimes last for hours. My mother called it “peasant food”, as she thought it reflected simplicity. In my memory, it was more like “food of the gods” – aromatic and seductive with every bite. I learned at an early age that the best meals were always at home.
No one was to emerge from that nest without first earning their Italian cooking chops! I watched my parents prepare meals with a pinch of this, a handful of that, and the highest regard for fresh ingredients. I learned that some of the best dishes came from memory and not from specific recipes. Building a collection of memorable dishes and methods in my mind and heart, I used them as a foundation for creating my own Italian dishes and menus.
With awakened taste buds and the fire already lit, the inevitable occurred in 2010, when Linda’s Italian Table became a reality featuring Italian cooking classes, Menu Consultations, and Cooking Demos.
More recently, I have added an ebook to this list, For Love of Crostini. This book features Crostini, the Italian toast appetizers, with a variety of toppings that are easy yet complex in levels of flavor, nestled in beautiful photographs, illustrating serving ideas. It is available to all on my Linda’s Ebook Page, here on the website.