Tag Archives: chillies

Two dishes, from two regions and two bisnonne… Abruzzo and Calabria

When we cook the same dishes that our ancestors cooked it connects us to them, to our history and it also brings us back to something within ourselves that we mightn’t have thought of for some time or something we hadn’t yet discovered. Just the aroma of a dish cooking can release a trigger of deep memories that lets things rise up and take shape in us.

I grew up in Australia, far from where my great-grandmothers, Maddalena and Francesca lived in Italy. And yet, here I am, almost a century on, cooking the same dishes they cooked, a lovely connection to these two strong women. The dishes are maccheroni Calabrese (knitting needle pasta) and pasta alla chitarra (guitar pasta) made on a ‘chitarra box’ I got from Abruzzo. I sought to make sauces that reflected their history too. The maccheroni Calabrese (pasta rolled on a knitting needle for its shape) has a richer red sauce with melanzane and chillies that Francesca’s town of Palmi is known for. And the chitarra pasta has bitter, wild greens added to the passata, inspired by Maddalena walking hillsides near Fossa picking wild greens into her upturned apron and taking them back to cook with. It also has pecorino cheese on top because that part of Abruzzo is known for its sheep.

These dishes (pictured) are from my kitchen so they are a little rustic (as are their photos!) and mightn’t live up to those cooked by my bisnonne, but they made me feel happy and reminded me of those before and sometimes maybe that’s all we need when it comes to cooking.
Hope your next time cooking is delicious and joyful! Zoë xx

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pasta arrabbiata and an almost full moon…

A little while ago I mentioned some wood-smoked chillies that I’d bought from a roadside stall. I’m going to use some as a bit of a twist on pasta arrabbiata.

In Italian, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’ and refers to the heat of chilli peppers in this sauce. The recipe varies but usually has some type of chilli mixed with garlic and herbs in a tomato passata. This time I’m also adding red and spring onions.

As for the pasta, I couldn’t resist these little moons and stars… looking out the window I think it is sort of a half moon tonight although almost full! (I will hold back from making any puns about the dish being heavenly. Knowing how hot these particular chillies are, I think it will be the one having more of a say!)

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back roads…

Love roadside stalls with honesty boxes… cooked with some of the wood smoked chillies last night and they were actually pretty hot!

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