Self-isolation, staycation, involuntary vacation, quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same – we are all at home, and it’s looking like more and more of you are as well. Hanging out in the family home is one of Italy’s national pastimes. Hours-long lunches, dinners, birthdays and holidays, whether voluntary or forced, are a regular part of Italian culture. It’s just what we do. So what happens when togetherness is off-limits?
We Get Creative
Pandemic-imposed family time and curtailed social life brings out the very best in Italian ingenuity and overall Italianness. We may not be going out to dinner or cocktails, but we’re hosting digital apericena (translation: virtual happy hour on WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime) . Piazza life is no longer about getting a prime table, instead we’re singing out of our windows with the neighbors every day at 6pm. But we’re having the most fun is in our kitchens. Here’s how I enjoy Italian cuisine every night.
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Every evening at 8pm CET superstar chef Massimo Bottura is live from Modena. Bottura, who temporarily closed the doors to Osteria Francescana, opens the doors of his home and invites all of us inside to kitchen to join his family wife Lara and children Alexa and Charlie for Kitchen Quarantine as they just hang out cooking together. Every now and then, you’ll catch a glimpse of Monk, the family dog.
It’s not a master class. It’s Kitchen Quarantine with our family. We just want to have fun and show to the world that with a few things – a table, a few ingredients, a family, we can have fun.
So far, I’ve caught up with him for Modena’s signature dish Tortellini in Brodo and every kid’s favorite mac-n-cheese. On his IGTV he shares Q&A sessions, answering questions and responding to comments from his Instagram on things like why he chooses to speak primarily in English (he wants everyone to be able to participate), and why doesn’t he slow down (repeat: not a cooking show) to more technical questions about how to make a broth.
It’s all about cleaning out the refrigerator and fighting unnecessary waste. Don’t leave the house every few days for shopping. Stay at home, use what you have in the fridge. Everything.
Massimo has never been shy about using everything, and I mean everything, in the kitchen and shouting out against food waste. His and Gilmore’s Food for Soul, a sustainable food kitchen and project, is in three continents, and his book Bread is Gold shares recipes from his famous chef friends that focus on “extraordinary meals from ordinary and sometimes wasted ingredients”. So yes, don’t expect this to be Michelin, it’s Massimo and it’s how his family eats at home.
Alexa, Massimo and Lara’s daughter is behind the camera and leads the Q&As, and it is thanks to her that Kitchen Quarantine is live every evening. Alexa thought it would be great to share their family meals with the rest of world, to show togetherness and bring people together with them.
More Italy Live
Chef Max Mariola. Believe it or not, Max is my neighbor, and he goes to my gym. He’s always smiling and pushing it to the next level with an energy that can wipe me out on a good day. A little background: Max is a chef, expert host on Gambero Rosso (italy’s cooking channel), and he hosts his own YouTube channel cooking up Roman favorites like carbonara, griscia and spaghetti with clams, but lately he’s cooking in his kitchen. Max’s Instagram profile and IGTV page features all of his dishes, but what I really love are his at home antics with his young son.
What’s the Tech: YouTube and IGTV. Content is well done and very cute, and mostly the same on both platforms. However, Max’s YouTube wins hands down for its option to add English language subtitles. Genius.
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Frescobaldi people : I just stumbled across this yesterday, only to discover it had just launched. Wine behemoth Frescobaldi takes us to the people making Frescobaldi’s wines. So far, it’s charming.
What’s the Tech: IGTV.