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Mama Says "Allons Mangia!"

Yes yes YES!! I know and am FULLY AWARE those are two TOTALLY different languages, but when you have two different yet similar heritages coursing through your veins, there's bound to be some overlap. Being mostly-Italian and 1/2 Cajun, raised in the Deep South in the heart of Acadiana, well... things kind of meld together. The love of family and food is no exception! To have people to cook for is a blessing, and I'm extremely humbled to be so blessed!

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Food has ALWAYS been about family. There's a deep-running family tradition and legacy of phenomenal cooks going way back, and I've taken it as my responsibility to keep that moving forward. Of course with my kids now being young adults and out on their own, they're really interested in knowing how to cook, especially now that mom's specialties aren't so accessible so regularly. That's why I've started Kitchen Bravo, to chronicle some of the family favorite dishes we've enjoyed over the years and to share it with the world. This is a love note to my family, and to all who enjoy it.

More Than Just the Need to Eat

Food has always been about family. Food is life on so many planes. It's nourishment for our souls as well as our bodies. It's a constant symbol of love and acceptance. More than bread is shared at the table. Bonds are made, relationships are fortified, insights and laughter are expressed all thanks to the universal and basic need to eat.

Cooking is extremely personal. I’ve been cooking since I was about 9 years old with my dad. I come from a family of phenomenal cooks and bakers. My grandmother would bake pies for her friends and neighbors, basically anyone who wanted or needed pies or desserts. She did this as a side job of sorts. My grandfather is an amazing cook as well, making Italian dishes, sauces, caponatas, sausages, and almost anything else you can think of. So it’s no wonder that my dad (being their son) could make a gourmet meal out of grass clippings and corn flakes! Not that we’ve tried, mind you, haha. We have written family recipes of course, though as tastes change over the years, and availability of certain items can be difficult, some of the recipes have evolved, as things often do. The one thing that remains is tradition and familial element.

Feed Your Soul AND Your Stomach

This is more than a collection of recipes that I’ve collected and created over the years, of meals that I’ve prepared, of experiments I wanted to try or even old family traditions. This is a memoir. This is a love note to my family and friends. This is a remembrance for my children to pass along to their families and even add to it. It is a way to hopefully continue to be a part of my growing family through the generations, for my enthusiasm, compassion, creativity, and most of all my LOVE to permeate through the years long after I am gone. This is for all who share this incredible experience with me, and have blessed me with sharing a piece of their lives!

Teach them how to feed themselves long after you've taught them how to use a spoon..

Some of the most requested dishes are made better when the preparation is shared with the person requesting it. Sometimes it isn't easy, but in this case, when my daughter requests a specific dish for her birthday (and she isn't working) you can bet I'll have her right beside me showing her how to do it. I'm always thrilled to cook for the kids, especially special requests. I want the memories in those dishes to continue to live on long after I've gone. The best way is to get them involved. Cook with your kids! Make those memories! Instill this basic life skill into them with feverish meaning.

Teach Those You Love to Cook...

Give the gift that will literally be used and last a lifetime. This is a gift that in all ways keeps on giving! Just like teaching children at a very young age how to use a spoon and learn to feed themselves, teaching them how to prepare what goes ON that spoon is just as important if not more so. We want our kids to be independent, and as heartbreaking as it may be to see the success of our efforts, it's still so endearing at the same time.

I really look forward to having the kids help or even take over the kitchen. It's so oddly satisfying the few times I come home and hear the words "Here Mom, I made dinner for you!" Honestly it brings me to tears. Holidays are even different not only because they're older and of course the relationship dynamics have changed, but they voice their opinions and offer to contribute their own dishes to family dinners! It's a moment of satisfaction knowing I've done something right, and security knowing they'll not go hungry when they know how to cook. Of course that doesn't ever stop me from trying to force-feed them every time they come over; I am still and always their Mama! I would say it's too bad for them they're born into a family and heritage that centers around food! Oh how terrible to be loved so much!


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