Monday, 12 January 2015

Come facette mammeta - Guest post by Linda Poulnott

When I meet up with friends and family members and we have one of those long, wide ranging chats, the subject of computers, online life and social networking inevitably comes up. Everyone seems to know what an addict I am to the various social networks I am a member of…. And the same question seems to come up frequently: “but I heard that there are loads of trolls. Don’t you get trolled a lot?” 

I can honestly say that save for a couple of heated exchanges on twitter which involved more bad language than abuse, I have never been trolled. In fact, I have met so many wonderful like-minded people thanks to the online world. 

One such person is Linda Poulnott, my guest post author for this blog post. I met Linda online initially through our admiration for Johnny Marr’s guitar playing and songwriting. We eventually realised we had so much more in common; we are both learning to play guitar (and love guitars in general), are crazy about music and enjoy cooking, eating out, food and wine. The magic of the internet means that despite the fact she lives in southern Italy and I am in London, we were able to find each other and share our passions. Pretty amazing, right?

Well, it certainly doesn’t stop there. Linda’s time spent in the Bay of Naples makes her something of an expert on southern Italian cooking. Can you imagine my delight and complete surprise when she offered to write for Snig’s Kitchen on that very subject? 

I just made up to be able to host this post from Linda, which is the first of a series of three. I am sure you will enjoy it, and like me, can’t wait to see the her next two posts. 

Linda's photos are of her local food market. If you're anything like me, you will be most envious of the fantastic produce available. I'm drooling at my keyboard!

Anyway, over to you, Linda!

Come facette mammeta (like mother makes)

How to cook like a Neapolitan Mamma!                                         

First of all, I’d like to thank Snigdha for giving me the chance to write a guest spot on her blog. We met through our shared enthusiasm for guitars, Johnny Marr, good music and good food! Although I’m originally from Scotland I’ve been living in the Bay of Naples for over 20 years. I’ve always been passionate about food, but when I originally came here I knew very little about traditional Italian cooking. My knowledge was based purely on the often complicated, adaptations of Italian dishes  by British TV chefs, British ”Italian” restaurants and a few holidays spent in Cattolica and Rimini during the 80’s.

Italians have always been known for their love of good food. I've worked and travelled in many parts of the country and have to admit that the people here in the Campania region are the most food obsessed people I've ever met! In my opinion, they produce the best dishes in the nation. This has always been a poor area of Italy, so for centuries people had to become experts in, what is called, "cucina povera"(poor cuisine).

As the years passed and I became integrated into the local community, I learned a lot and was surprised to discover that real Italian homecooking is very simple and tasty. I had to learn to cook well when I started living with my Italian partner, Antonio, 10 years ago. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and nowhere is this truer than here in the Bay of Naples. 

One of my happiest moments was when Antonio told me that I was better at cooking than his Mamma!! I didn't even believe that that was possible.


1. Always use fresh, local ingredients that are in season. The one exception is using canned beans or chickpeas. There really is no difference in flavour and it saves loads of time during preparation.

2. When cooking pasta always wait until the water is boiling before adding salt and DO NOT add oil. I've never once seen an Italian doing this. Give it a stir then leave it. Don't put a lid on the pot either. The best way to check if it's ready is by trying it rather than relying on packet instruction timings.

3. Less is more. I was pretty shocked to discover than in Neapolitan cooking very few herbs and flavourings are added. They really like the true flavours of the food to shine through without overpowering them. I've never seen locals mixing lots of herbs in the same recipe or "drowning" their food with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The most popular pizza in Naples is Margherita (cheese and tomato). You very rarely see a Neapolitan with lots of pizza toppings, and NEVER with ham and pineapple!

4. Don't keep your tomatoes in the fridge. They tend to lose their flavour. 

5. Mozzarella is also usually kept out of the fridge in a bowl of cold water which is changed often.

6. Keep the extra virgin oil for salads and dressings. Using it to cook food will usually overpower the dish and can make it quite bitter and peppery. Normal blended olive oils are better.

7. When making risotto always keep your stock pot simmering and add a ladle at a time to the rice and stir often.

8. If you want a truly genuine Neapolitan experience when eating you must learn to do the "Scarpetta" (little shoe). This is what we call the essential, mopping up of leftover sauce on the plate with a big chunk of bread.

Many thanks to Linda for her lovely post, written for no incentive whatsoever than the enjoyment of readers. I look forward to hosting her future guest posts!

1 comment:

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