Questa è la verità!
Italians are known for their food.
Don't bother to argue the point.
You'll never win with an Italian cook.
As far as Italian cooks are concerned--food is love and love is food.
Period, that's it.
I had the good fortune to be raised by an Italian cook for fourteen years.
After that, I was blessed with a family filled with Italian cooks to keep that tradition going.
And, those Italian cooks were not going to let a little thing like me being 1/2 Irish and motherless stop them from turning me into an Italian cook too.
So, my Italian cooking lessons began......at the ripe old age of 14.
My aunts saw to that.
They put on their aprons and made it their business to educate me in the fine art of putting a proper Italian meal on the table weeknights at 5 pm and Sundays at 2pm.
Within weeks, I knew my way around a good Italian deli.
I was very well versed on mozarella, romano and paremesean.
I knew NOT to buy the stuff in a green cardboard container.
I grated off quite a few knuckles getting my cheeses just right.
But, I was young--my skin grew back.
And, I knew all about the magic of olive oil and garlic.
I understood the beauty of imported pasta and fresh basil.
And, I was completely aware of just how long to cook pasta to make sure it was aldente.
By my 15th birthday, I could roll a delicious meatball, whip up a frittata and make a superb pizza.
By the time I was 16, I had mastered lasagna and ravioli.
By 17, I could roll a beautiful braciaole and thumb punch a few hundred gnocchi in no time flat.
And, if I didn't have to break for four years of college, I'm sure I could have rivaled my aunts' manicotti and home made bread within a few months.
But, my real education had to begin.
So, I left behind my pots and pans for pencils and books and cafeteria food.
It was sometime during those years that I lost all sense of my Italian cooking education and embarked on years of eating bad food.
Somehow I thought that all that good Italian food is what made me fat.
When in reality--I wasn't cooking or eating all that good Italian food.
I was eating shit.
Well, not literally.
Literally--I was eating diet food.
Any food that promised to take the weight off of me and keep it off of me is what I was eating.
Over processed, chemically-enhanced, fake food.
And, when I wasn't eating diet food....I was eating everything but good food.
I lost all sense of what I was taught.
I might have been awarded a college degree for my book smarts.
But, I lost my kitchen common sense.
Somewhere along the line after I got married--I did manage to regain my Italian cooking skills.
But, I never lost my devotion to eating diet food......the bastardized version of good food.
Well, you know the rest of that story.
No need to retell it.
Interestingly....what my aunts taught me at the age of 14 and what I knew to be gospel at that time....came back to me by the way of none other than a New Jersey Housewife.
To be more precise--a Real Housewife of New Jersey.
Say what you will about my favorite New Jersey housewife--the table-flipping, big-spending, hot head who coined the phrase prostitution whore--Teresa Guidice-- but when she asked this question....How can something be nothing?---in reference to a zero calorie salad dressing--she got my attention.
And, she didn't have to flip a table to do it!
What Teresa was saying--at least the way I see it--is that there has to be something in that salad dressing---what is it?
My guess is that I don't want to know.
That one question got me to thinking.
Why can't we just eat real food?
Good food made from real stuff.
Like olive oil.
I mean--what the hell is wrong with olive oil?
It's made from olives. And, we know what olives are!
Further--why would I eat a frozen low calorie meal when I could eat fresh, tastey veggies spritzed with fresh lemon?
I mean, at least I know what broccoli, asparagus and lemons are. Right?
I have no idea what disodium inosinate and mono and diglycerides are.
They don't even sound good.
Where do they grow those? Are they plants or animals?
And, for the record--what is a Canola?
As in---canola oil?
Again....Teresa set me straight on that too.
There is no such thing as a canola anything.
It's not a plant, it's not a fruit, it's not a vegtable.
It's a made up word---the combination of Canada and oil.
Canola oil was invented by a group of Canadian scientists.
And, "they" say Canola oil is better for you!
We all know what scientists do when they experiment---think plastic....
They play with chemicals. Don't they?
Thank you once again, Teresa.
Now, I am by no means trying to sell you Teresa's book--Skinny Italian.
And, I am by no means trying to tell you that she is a saint or a role model.
But, the girl has a point.
And, she definitely can fit into her skinny jeans....after 4 kids.
So, if for no other reasons than those two--Toni and I traveled 7 hours and waited an additional 4 hours in line--to chat with her and have her sign our book.
Well, we didn't really travel 7 hours just to see her--we were already there in the great state of New Jersey....we just traveled an additional hour or so to get to the Barnes and Noble where she was having her book signing.
And, we weren't the only ones.
Over 600 others were there to see her too.
Toni and I were numbers 251 and 252.
We had a great time spending 4 hours getting to know numbers 245 through 255.
And, when we finally met Teresa.....she kissed us.
Now, let me tell you, she didn't kiss anyone else.
I have no idea why she chose us.
At least we know the girl has good taste.
And, we know she can fit into her skinny jeans.
And, she was rockin' some amazing Louboutin shoes.
That was enough for me.
From now on--real food.
As Teresa would say---FABULOUS!