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This is a great article about Lidia’s new cookbook and the philosophy behind it. Read it here!
“Italian-American food does not reflect what Italy is today, but it is the food of Italian-American immigrants, the food of adaptation,” she says in a recent phone interview. “That’s what American is all about, different ethnicities bringing the best of what they have, seeing the opportunities and making things their own.”
Lidia is on the road in America signing copies of her latest cookbook, Lidia’s Italy in America. She was excited to launch her first LIVE! appearance near San Francisco last Friday night to a crowd of over 600 fans.
After the audience tasted samples of Banfi wines and Bauli panettone, they were escorted to the main area in front of the stage where local chef Allan Fairhurst of Scoma’s restaurant entertained the crowd with a cooking demonstration. As the theme song from Lidia’s Italy and a fun clip from her new show played, fans cheered as Lidia walked out on stage.
She started out the evening with a small introduction about why she chose to write this book:
I feel blessed to be part of two of the greatest cultures in the world. I was born Italian and love the food, the family, the arts and the way of life that the Italians are all about. But I can tell you now that only here….only in America…could I do what I love for a living. America really is the land of opportunity.
As the crowd cheered, Lidia invited four audience members to come up on stage to eat at her table. They savored each bite and oohed and aahed as Lidia prepared each dish.
Joel Ridell of KGO radio was the charismatic emcee of the evening. He kept the audience laughing while Lidia demonstrated and discussed plenty of new kitchen tips for audience of food lovers.
Stuffed artichokes were the focus of the first course; Lidia paid tribute to the Pezzini artichoke growers of the Salinas Valley–a family she met while researching the book.
While preparing rigatoni alla boscaiolo, Lidia told the audience that this dish would never be made with cream in Italy. Then she looked up at the fans and asked them if they thought she should add the cream anyway; the response was a resounding “YES!”
Next was a super simple basil and pistachio pesto. This dish was quickly put together and tossed with the pasta just before Lidia prepared her delicious chicken sorrentino–a moist chicken breast made with eggplant, basil, marinara sauce, ham, and melted Grana Padano and mozzarella. Lidia asked a young teenage girl who got to sample the dish on stage if she enjoyed it. She replied that she loved it. Lidia then asked, “Do you think other young people your age would like it?” She responded, “Well my sister wouldn’t.”
Lidia capped off the meal with a simple panettone cake with zabaglione sauce.
Following Lidia’s discussion of Italian food, Italian Americans, and most of all, family, she met her fans for a book signing. Before heading out for a quick bite to eat on her way to the next stop on her tour, Lidia said the words her fans have all have come to know and love: “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” or “everyone to the table to eat!”
Next up is Trenton, NJ – perfect for folks in the Philadelphia, New York City or Southern New Jersey areas. Local talent will include Sam Amico of De Lorenzo’s – famous for their tomato pies!
If you’re in New York or Connecticut, don’t miss Lidia’s show in Purchase, NY on November 10th! Andy Nusser of Port Chester’s Tarry Lodge opens the show!
Philadelphia: It All Happens on Philadelphia’s 9th Street
In this episode, Lidia visits Philadelphia’s Sarcone & Son Bakery, where their bread is made the same way today as it was when this institution first opened in 1918; a truly old-world bakery, Louis Sarcone closes up shop after each day’s batch is sold. Lidia also takes a tour of the impressive artisanal Italian imports at 9th Street Market, such as Claudio Specialty Foods and Di Bruno Brothers. In the kitchen, Lidia makes Chicken Trombino, Stuffed Escarole, and is joined by Grandma for a favorite Italian-American dessert: Pignoli cookies.
California and New Jersey: From the Garden State to the Golden State
Lidia learns all about artichokes at Pezzini Farms in California, and crosses the country to be joined by Tanya for a visit to the Maugeri Farm, grower of New Jersey tomatoes. At the farm, Tanya and Lidia enjoy a classic, home-grown, Italian-American meal with the Maugeri family. Inspired by her visit to Pezzini Farms, Lidia makes an Artichoke Soup, followed by Stuffed Vegetables and a Radicchio, Goat Cheese, and Raisin Salad.
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh’s Italian Americans
In this episode, Lidia travels to Bloomfield, home of Pittsburgh’s Little Italy. Here she visits Maria Merante Palmieri’s quaint Italian gift shop, Merante’s Gifts, grabs a sandwich at Primanti’s where she talks with Antonia Corradetti, and takes viewers on a tour of Lidia’s Pittsburgh. Back in the kitchen, Lidia prepares a Baked Ziti, a delicious sandwich of Primanti’s Capicola and Cheese, and Fettucine Mafalda.
New England: Spicy and Sweet in New England
Take a trip with Lidia to Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing village with a large Italian population, and then visit Providence, Rhode Island, where Lidia goes to the Scialo Brothers’ Bakery. Lidia makes Spaghetti with Lobster Sauce and tries the Scialo Brothers’ recipe for Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes.
New Orleans: The Sicilian Quarter
In this episode, Lidia is joined by Tanya as she heads to New Orleans’ Sicilian Quarter, where she stops by the Central Grocery to enjoy a classic Muffuletta sandwich and then visits the Immigrant Monument in Woldenburg Park. Back in the kitchen, Lidia fries up marinated artichokes and makes a Muffaletta Sandwich with Ricotta, Anchovies, and Olive Oil.
California: Pesto Pronto!
On her trip to the Golden State, Lidia meets with Brady Whitlow, president of Corto Olive, to talk about their methods of producing Italian-style olive oil in California. Next, Lidia visits one of the longest-standing wine making families in Sonoma County, the Seghesio family, at their vineyards. Joe joins Lidia in the kitchen to give his take on how to use pesto in two easy recipes: Pesto Salmon BLT and Pesto Chicken Salad. Lidia explores pesto’s possibilities with a Spaghetti with Basil and Pistachio Pesto and a Fusilli dish with Spinach Walnut Pesto.
St. Louis: Macaroni & Cheese: An American Favorite, Inspired by Italy
Lidia travels to St. Louis and visits Volpi Foods, where she chats with owner Armando Passetti about their variety of cured Italian meats. Later, Lidia shows viewers the rich history of St. Louis’s Italian neighborhood, the Hill. In the kitchen, Lidia is happy to be joined by her granddaughter, Julia, as she makes Macaroni and Cheese, an American classic, as well as Veal Hamburger Parmiciano, and wonderful Braised Escarole.
Kansas City: Italian American Steak in Kansas City
Join Lidia in Kansas City, where she and Cody Hogan talk with Mario Fantasma, owner of Paradise Locker Meats, about the heritage pork he provides to Lidia’s Kansas City. Later, get an exclusive tour inside Lidia’s Kansas City! Last but not least, Tanya brings viewers on a journey through the impressive collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Lidia makes Steak Pizzaiola, tempting Roasted Potato Wedges, and caps the meal off with Ricotta Cookies for dessert.
Chicago: Chicago’s Italian Beef Sandwich
Join Lidia and Tanya in Chicago, where Tanya shows viewers the Piazza DiMaggio and Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, both located on Taylor Street, a testament to Italian Chicago’s great pride in its heritage. Back in New York, Lidia meets up with Pat LaFrieda of LaFrieda Meats to learn all about inexpensive and incredibly tasty cuts of meat. Lidia’s grandson, Lorenzo, helps Lidia make a simple Pasta with Lentils, Italian Beef Sandwich, and Lemon Ice for a refreshing dessert.
Baltimore: Gone Crabbing
In this episode Lidia heads to Baltimore, where she goes crabbing off of Tangiers Island, VA in search of the freshest crabs for her crabcakes. In this exciting episode, viewers will witness the molting of the crab’s shell with the local mayor – one of the watermen of the island. In the kitchen, Lidia prepares a truly nautical meal of Mussels Triestina, Stuffed Tomatoes, and Crabcakes.
From Coast to Coast: Three Favorite pastas in America
In this episode, Lidia begins with a trip to Gilroy, California to learn all about the town’s impressive Italian culinary heritage, and then crosses the country to visit Union Square Market in Manhattan, where she checks out the freshest vegetables to make the perfect Pasta alla Primavera. Together with Becco’s Billy Gallagher, Lidia prepares three of America’s favorite pasta dishes: Pasta alla Primavera, Fettucine Alfredo, and Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.
Kansas City and New Orleans: Italian Father’s Day
Join Lidia in Kansas City, where she pays a visit to the Holy Rosary Church to watch the ladies assemble their famous altar to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, the Italian Father’s Day. Down in New Orleans, Lidia takes part in the traditional festival of pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines), also a classic St. Joseph’s Day celebration. In this episode, Lidia makes Italian-American Meatloaf, Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, and St. Joseph’s Fig Cookies for a tasty dessert.
California: Pasta—The Ultimate Showcase
Lidia returns to California to visit Andy Boy farm and learns all about broccoli rabe. Later, Lidia meets up with Dino Cortopassi, owner of Corto Olive, to hear his family’s colorful culinary history. Join Lidia and Grandma in the kitchen as she makes Baked Stuffed Shells, Penne with Artichokes, and Bacon Orecchiette with Andy Boy’s Broccoli Rabe.
Eastern Seaboard: A Shell of a Good Time
Joined by Esca’s Dave Pasternack, Lidia visits with some of Long Island’s local fishermen and goes clamming with one of Dave’s good friends. Later, Tanya takes viewers on a tour of Boston’s North End. Back in the kitchen, Lidia goes clam crazy and makes Clams Casino and Baked Clams Oreganato.
USA: Italy’s Crowd Pleasers
Lidia and her good friend, Angelo Vivolo, visit one of his favorite Italian-American spots in Brooklyn: Faicco’s Pork Store. Also in Brooklyn, Lidia discovers Frankie’s Spuntino, two young Italian Americans who are cooking Italian-American food with a modern twist. Tanya helps Lidia two classic crowd-pleasers: Spaghetti Carbonara and Sausage and Peppers.
Chicago: Chicago’s Chicken Vesuvio
Lidia travels to the Windy City to visit Caputo’s, a family-owned Italian grocery in Elmwood Park, a very Italian suburb of Chicago. Lidia also brings her viewers for a stroll along the main thoroughfare of Chicago’s Little Italy, Taylor Street, which is currently undergoing a major Renaissance. Grandma joins Lidia in the kitchen as her taste-tester, while Lidia prepares Cauliflower Soup and Chicken Vesuvio.
Baltimore: A Baltimore Classic—The Civic Club Sandwich
In this episode, Lidia heads to Baltimore, where she visits an institution of Italian food: Di Pasquale’s market. Back in the kitchen, Lidia prepares Spiedini alla Romana, Minestrone, and the Italian-American Civic Club Sandwich.
New York City and New Jersey: An Italian-American Picnic in NYC
In this episode Lidia and Tanya embark on a whirlwind tour of New York City. Tanya takes viewers to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and Lidia brings viewers to Union Square Market, where she shops for the makings of an Italian-American picnic. Lidia prepares a delicious Fried Zucchini Prosciutto; a Scallion and Egg Sandwich; and a Celery, Artichoke, and Mortadella Salad.
USA: Italian-American and Truly Italian
Lidia travels to Boston to visit Christine and Carla Pallotta, owners of Nebo restaurant, to hear their story and taste their gnocchi, made from a recipe passed down from their mother. Later, Lidia explores a variety of crustaceans, including a scallop still in its shell. Lidia’s grandchildren—Olivia, Miles, and Ethan—help her prepare Italian American Shrimp and Gnocchi with Gorgonzola.
New Orleans: A Cup and a Slice of Capuccino
Lidia heads south to New Orleans, where she visits Brocato’s to sample a few of her favorite desserts. She then checks out the bustling, produce-filled, open-air Crescent City Farmer’s Market, where farmers and shoppers are brought together by their love of fresh food. Lidia makes Meat-Stuffed Eggplant, Veal Scallopine Marasala, and for dessert, she prepares a Cappuccino Cake.
San Francisco and Napa: Soupy in San Francisco
Out on the Golden Coast, Lidia visits Swann Oyster Depot in San Francisco where she checks out King Crab legs, and then shows viewers the wide variety of sizes of artichokes at Pezzini Farms. Lidia prepares Stuffed Artichokes and Cioppino—a San Francisco Italian-American classic.
USA: Oh, Those Ravioli
Lidia heads north to Boston, where she takes viewers on a sweet trip to two Boston pastry shops: Modern Pasty and Maria’s Pastry, and ventures into Boston’s Little Italy to see pasta made by hand. Down in New Jersey, Lidia checks out Simply Grazin’ Organic Farm. In the kitchen, Lidia prepares Ricotta and Sausage-Filled Ravioli and Struffoli, an Italian-American classic, for dessert.
Eastern Seaboard: Fishing Along America’s Eastern Seaboard
Lidia heads to Providence, Rhode Island to visit Mark Gasbarro, owner of Gasbarro’s wines, to learn about his favorite seafood pairings. Lidia goes crabbing in Chesapeake Bay; visits the Italian-American fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts; and goes fishing with Esca’s Dave Pasternack off New York’s coast.
New York: New York Pizza
Lidia shows viewers a typical New York pizza and then pays a visit to Eataly, where Sal at the cheese counter shows viewers how to make fresh mozzarella. Lidia makes traditional Italian Pizza Margherita from scratch, a Sausage and Spinach Calzone, and is joined in the kitchen by Grandma, who performs the official taste test.
USA: Shrimp, Shrimp, and More Shrimp
Lidia takes viewers on a journey to Italy to learn about pepperoncino, a quintessential ingredient in any Fra Diavolo dish. Tanya shows viewers that Italian Americans are internationally recognized for their great cuisine, which can be found everywhere from Sonoma, California to St. Louis, Missouri to Boston’s North End. However, Tanya also explains that Italians are also leaders in popular American design, fashion, and sports. Back in New York, Lidia visits the fish counter at Eataly NYC and prepares a veritable showcase of delicious shrimp dishes: Shrimp Parmigiano, Shrimp Scampi, and Shrimp Fra Diavolo.
San Diego: Giant Squid, Milanese Style
Lidia shares her memories of San Diego with viewers and heads out to do some more fishing with Esca’s Dave Pasternack. Joined by Del Posto’s Mark Ladner, Lidia makes a Giant Squid Milanese, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Spinach Salad.
Lidia talks about the US food culture.Watch the interview here!
Lidia’s newest public television series, Lidia’s Italy in America, is airing this fall. The accompanying cookbook was released on October 25th!
Shifting the spotlight from Italy to the United States, Lidia brings viewers on a road trip into the heart of Italian-American cooking. Join Lidia as she crosses the country to talk with fishermen, chefs, farmers, butchers, families, and entrepreneurs to learn more about the rich and diverse development of Italian American culture. This new series explores the enduring role food has played in the creation of the Italian-American identity by celebrating the ways in which Italian immigrants adapted the traditional cuisine of their old homeland to fit the new.
Advice from my Nonna Erminia
“Experiens magister vitae.”
Nonna always uses this Latin phrase to let us and our five grandkids know that “experience is the teacher of life.” You learn as you go along and hopefully try not to make the same mistake twice. Know that you should use well the life experiences you have been fortunate enough to gain. – Tanya