Silvia's Kitchen
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Welcome to my Blog

Hi, I'm Silvia Nacamulli and I'm very pleased to be joining Women’s View and to share my blog with you. I am Italian, living in London where I teach, cater and write about Italian Jewish cooking which is a unique combination of flavours from two food based cultures. Italian Jews have been in Italy for over 2000 years and throughout the centuries they adapted traditional local dishes to conform to Kosher rules and, in the process, created new and original recipes, contributing to and enriching the traditional Italian cuisine. As I will be posting on a regular basis, I thought I'd start by introducing myself!

Food, or rather good food, has always played an important part in my life. Born and bred in Rome, I’m the youngest of three and I have lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. It’s the typical Italian Jewish family you may imagine - loud with everyone talking at the same time, gesticulating, merry and always, and I do mean always, meeting whilst eating lots of delicious food.

My wonderful grandmothers greatly influenced my cooking. As a child we ate at my paternal grandparents every Thursday lunch time with one set of cousins, and every Friday night at the other grandparents with the other set of cousins. Their food was delicious and simple and a healthy Mediterranean diet.

But the real gems in the kitchen, where I learned the most, are my parents. Both hard working and always very sociable, they have an incredibly busy life - travelling, cycling and trekking - surely busier than mine. But one thing I know is that the house is always full of food, especially vegetables, and that they both cook wonders.

My father, Bruno, is the creative and experimental one, using exotic spices purchased on his travels and trying different cuisines but always returning to Italian food. He likes going to the market and generally enjoys being in the kitchen. He loves spicy food and cooks great fish. He makes his own yogurt daily and fantastic jams of fruit they mostly pick or grow themselves such as lemons, oranges, kumquats, green tomatoes, blueberries, chestnut and cherries. He is also a mycologist in his spare time and as a child we often went mushroom picking. Mushrooms have definitely been a part of my ‘culinary formation’ and Porcini together with Chanterelles, are my favourites.

My mother, Miriam, is my ultimate culinary guru. She cooks wonderfully and is the one, despite her busy life, who always makes sure there is plenty of food on the table and who keeps the Italian Jewish traditions alive. Her side of the family has been in Rome for as many generations as we can trace back, either since the Spanish Inquisition or Roman times with the destruction of the Second Temple. My mother’s grandfather was a Rabbi and traditions, including culinary ones, have always been very important to her. Her style of cooking using pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg in savoury food is singular to Roman Jews. And so are dishes such as the Stracotto, a beef stewed in tomato sauce and red wine ideal for Shabbat, or fried dishes such as the famous ‘Carciofi alla Giudia’ – Artichokes Jewish style - or desserts such as the Cassola made of ricotta cheese. All these dishes and many more have always been an integral part of my diet and life. I took it for granted, as we often do with some of the best things that happen to us.

Once I left home and finally Rome, I realised that the food I grew up with was unique to my Roman Jewish traditions. I also realised that if I wanted to continue eating well and with similar flavours I grew up with, it was going to be up to me to recreate those and preserve my precious culinary heritage. I therefore started a virtual cooking marathon, calling my mother for more recipes, searching for those delicious flavours, and every time I found one it was a wonderful feeling. That was over 20 years ago and I have not stopped since.

I’ve always loved sharing my food and feeding people. Although I actually started teaching cookery as a hobby it soon became clear that cooking was my vocation.

I often mention during my classes that I am not a chef but rather a passionate cook. My cookery training and formation comes from my upbringing having carefully observed and absorbed the art of three generations of fine Italian Jewish cooks. Of course cooking professionally for the last 9 years my recipes have evolved but I still feel attached to my culinary roots and I love to share my heritage. I also like to explore new flavours, ingredients and cuisines whether through cooking or the simple pleasure of eating.

Through this blog I’ll share with you once every 6 weeks some of my culinary culture and experience, giving advice on how to shop for seasonal produce and how they can be used in recipes, or sharing a new dish I may have come across. Every time will be a different journey of flavours and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Silvia Nacamulli