Simply… Italian

By Christina Collins

Grilled Baby Octopus

Irecently returned from my first trip to my ancestor’s homeland, Italy. I wanted to go to Italy for many reasons but above all this, I wanted to experience the food. It was a truly incredible experience and I learned so much about history, culture and my heritage, but what I enjoyed the most was the small restaurants that opened a whole new appreciation for both cooking and eating with seasonal ingredients.Everything in Europe is so different than here in the U.S. but the food is truly a unique experience. Meals are created around fresh, seasonal ingredients not by what is on sale in the frozen food section. Although I am sure they exist, I could not even find a frozen department in any of the food markets I stopped into! The flavors are simple and beautiful and delicious. It was important for me to remember that sometimes the best meals come from the fewest, freshest ingredients.

To cook Italian means to… Cook with love. Cook simply. Cook fresh.

Since my return home, I have been cooking with that Italian approach of simplicity. The main ingredient, whether a meat protein or a vegetable, should shine in it’s purest form rather than be masked in other flavors. Usually all it takes to create a wonderful, beautiful Italian dish is some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of an acid. It’s remarkably humbling to cook seemingly simple dishes because you must respect each ingredient to it’s fullest and cook it perfectly. In fact, there is nothing simple about cooking simply.

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