I’m happy to have Nina from Flowers in my Hair as our guest today! She shares lots of delicious recipes on her blog, often inspired by her Nonna. Today, she is sharing the story of how her Nonna nurtured her love for cooking.
Hi! I am Nina and I write at Flowers in my Hair–where I write about all sorts of adventures and stories–even the cooking ones. And let’s face it, cooking can be an adventure sometimes (or is that just me?). I’m a writer but I am also Italian so to not share the recipes and story of the famiglia would be strange. Before I go on, let me just give you the requisite flowers in my hair photo (you’ve gotta do it when you have a blog title like mine) and then let’s talk about what it’s like to come from a long line of incredible, Italian women who can cook like nobody’s business.
I remember when I was young, asking my nonna how she became such a good cook (and when I say a good cook, I mean the best…second only to her mother my bis nonna–great grandmother in Italian). I couldn’t have been more than six when she told me that when she married at 19 she had no idea what she was doing. Every day, she would call her mother and say something like, “I bought pork chops. What do I do with them?”And before she knew it, she was making masterpieces, just like her own mother. Like her meatballs and the best biscotti from scratch.
Once a year, my nonna would put on a dinner party for my friends and I, starting in middle school. It began with four girls and by my senior year, there were over 30 people attending. Everyone was raving about her about her cooking (as people are wont to do). She kept saying in her dramatic fashion: “Listen! If you can read, you can cook!” When I saw the movie Ratatouille with my four year old sister (I come from a traditional and yet very modern family), where that is the mantra of the film, I knew that obviously the writers of the animated film were bugging our weekly Sunday dinners because why wouldn’t they? (I often look around for cameras when we are all together, expecting to see cameras because we are a reality show).
My nonna is sassy and young at heart and I love her. Her love language is food. When you enter her home, whether it is the first time or the millionth time, she asks you, “What can I make you?” When you assure her you don’t need anything, she will ask again and again. She needs to cook for you like she needs to breathe. She needs to serve seconds at Sunday Dinner like some people are left handed. These may seem like exaggerations but they are not. I can assure you, I am not. Leaving any of her pasta and sauce behind is a tragedy in her world. And I mean, I kind of agree.
We tease her mercilessly because she teases us mercilessly. She thinks women shouldn’t leave the house without lipstick, not because she’s sexist but because, “Lipstick makes everyone look beautiful.” Last time I was at her house, I borrowed a color from her. “Do you want gloss too?” she asked. “Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don’t.” And her food. You guys, her food. My friends all call her nonna because she is everyone’s nonna. And all my friends, even if we haven’t spoken in so long, always ask about her and her food within the first five minutes of reconnecting. Sharing her on my blog, her recipes and her spirit, is a joy. I am so fortunate to have her as a nonna. And also to eat her Ice Box Cake.
This summer I spent time making all her famous recipes with her because those Italians, they don’t exactly use measuring spoons. I tried to treasure these incredible moments while also covering my ears every time she clanged the spoon over and over again, against the pot. She’s a living legend and I love her so much. I know because she tells me and because, with a love language like food, she cooks for me all the time.
Come on over to my blog to hear more about her and my other adventures. The other night we went out for my birthday and it was my dad, my stepmom, my mom, my aunt, my little sister, and my nonna. It was magical. In honor of my birthday, I am offering 27% off all sponsor spots with the code TWENTYSEVEN. I’d love to have you. Who knows? I may surprise you with Nonna’s Biscotti in the mail.