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An Intimate Conversation with Lidia Bastianich

Short Description of An Intimate Conversation with Lidia Bastianich

An Intimate Conversation with Lidia Bastianich

Author: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

At Proctors.

Proctors.org

 

With Thanksgiving and the holidays right around the corner, the Capital District was treated to a wonderful evening of everything Italian with Lidia Bastianich, hostess of the famous series, “Lidia’s Kitchen”. The event, hosted in question and answer format, took the Proctor’s audience on a historic journey of Lidia’s life and her climb to becoming one of America’s leading Italian chefs.

She was born in Pola, Italy, in February, 1947, as Lidia Matticchio. Times were dangerous in 1947, and one of her earliest memories was her mother taking the children in her neighborhood to a courtyard in Italy out of harm’s way. It was here that Lidia’s love for food grew, as she began picking potatoes from the ground and “feeling the warmth of life” in her hands.

The political events of Eastern Europe had a significant impact on the direction of Lidia's life. Just six months after she was born, Pola, Italy became part of Yugoslavia, and then Croatia, as the Soviet Union spread its wings after its victories in WWII.  Rigid Soviet censorship included a mandatory change of her family's Italian name, Mallicchio, to one with a more ‘Slavic’ twist.  When they were able to move to America, with the help of Catholic charities, Lidia’s family reclaimed its Italian name. Her love of food followed her across the ocean, and she opened two early restaurants in Queens, New York. A decade later, Lidia’s journeys continued on into Manhattan, where Julia Child became her mentor (Lidia actually appeared twice on Julia’s show). Julia's TV crew felt she had done such a good job, they encouraged her to consider having a show of her own.  

The rest is history.

Lidia entertained us with engaging stories about the evolution of her success.  She stressed the importance of the family table; consuming food not only for sustenance, but for sustaining peace and camaraderie (a tradition held very strongly today in Italian and other cultures).  

Her most recent book:  " Mastering the Art of Italian Cusine" is modeled after Julia Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"  Both books have the same publisher who encouraged this simile. 

Rule 1: Always buy and prepare seasonal ingredients for the best possible outcome. Her famous four words are “taste as you go”, and add seasoning throughout.

She talked us through some hidden cultural recipe treasures like risotto with sauerkraut.

We were especially riveted when she related her experiences cooking for both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis and the intimate breakfast shared by Pope Francis, in the kitchen of the Papal Nuncio on the Upper East Side. She also helped launch “Eataly” (with Mrio Batale), but like any mom, she will remind you that her biggest accomplishment is her family.

Cool tip for Thanksgiving Turkey:  Baste it with Balsamic Vinegar during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Was there a serious difference between authentic Italian food and Italian American food? Is there anything she would change?

“No,” she answered. “It’s perfect!”

    --Kim DiMaggio and Marianna Gatta, for didyouweekend.com

 

Contact Information

Address: State St, Schenectady, NY, USA

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