Tanya Bartolini’s grandparents and great grandparents emigrated from Italy to Australia to forge a better future for their children, and along the way the whole family have adapted traditional recipes to suit what was available and delicious in their new home. Some genius adaptations have resulted, but Tanya also shares some authentic old school Italian recipes as well. I have been pestering a tight lipped Italian friend for years for her recipe for spaghetti sauce to no avail, and I was delighted to find that thankfully, Tanya shares her Nonna Ida’s recipe! Tanya is obviously very generous to share her families recipes, and was kind enough to answer some questions.
Did you always plan to write one that showcased your family history so
family story/cookbook, but as I grew to learn more about my grandparents story
and my passion for food especially Italian only grew stronger I wanted to share
this with people. I only hoped that people would relate to my story and
appreciate the recipes.
grandparents bought tears to my eyes! Was it difficult to hear them open up?
grandfather still struggled to talk about it and that’s why I think he felt it
was easier to write his story down on paper for me. It is so hard to relate to
what they went through but the thought of what they endured and the fact that
they came to Australia
to help give me the life I live today is nothing short of inspirational.
recipes in your book, where there any secret recipes that you were not allowed
family were just thrilled that I had decided to write the book and happy to
share with others. My theory is that if our food encourages others to cook then
that is a good thing. Why keep good food to ourselves, it is when you share
food and recipes that wonderful memories are created not just for us but others
marvel in the vegetable garden! Has his talent been passed down to you? What
are your favourite herbs to grow and cook with?
fortunate to get the green thumb of both of my nonno’s. Unfortunately no I did
not get their talents in the garden. I do grow rosemary, thyme, mint, basil and
sage and I was also growing silverbeet quite well however I only have a very
small yard and have not yet ventured into tomatoes which is on my to grow list
next. I have gotten better over time but just remembering to water them some
days can be tough.
Cultures seems to be all about using what you have, however are there any
particular Italian items that you cannot do without?
love Pandoro which is an Italian cake that comes out every Christmas. There are
so many things you can do with a store bought Pandoro. Eat as is for breakfast
with a cup of coffee or make a fantastic dessert. I recently posted an Italian
Chocolate Espresso Pudding on my website http://thekitchenbench.com.au/
which uses Pandoro.
favourite suppliers in Brisbane, or the
rest of Australia for
Italian produce from Benfatti Fine Italian Foods. Ben Cleary imports in
fantastic Italian products such as bottled tomatoes from Sicily, olive oil and amazing balsamic
vinegars. I also recently discovered a great little store in Kenmore in
Brisbane which stocks fresh organic produce from local South East QLD farmers
and pantry staples called Julia’s Pantry. I purchase my cold meats and olives
usually from Clayfield Fresh Markets in Brisbane.
Blending the Cultures contains some very authentic recipes that use ingredients
such as rice bran oil, to great effect. What is the strangest ingredient you
have found in a traditional Italian recipe?
especially in the second part of the book are very traditional Italian recipes
with a very Australian twist, for example the rice bran oil inclusion. I would
have to say that my Nonno Ida’s crumbed chicken which has always been one of my
favourite dishes of hers has a very surprising ingredient. Nonna puts Scotch
Whiskey in her eggs and marinates the chicken in the egg mixture. The scotch
gives the chicken a fabulous taste.
was no recipe for Nonno Angelos liquid sunshine, Limoncello! Are you
planning a follow up cookbook with more recipes?
include in a second book. Recipes of my grandparents, recipes inspired by my
travels and also inspired by my family in Italy. Watch this space.
selling my book, obviously however I have many ideas of where to take The
Kitchen Bench and Italian/Australian food and traditions. I am really focused
on sharing some of the many Italian traditions that still take place here in Australia today but may have been altered
slightly over the years to either adjust to our different climate here in Australia or
different produce. Some of these traditions are slowly dying with a smaller
focus on being self sufficient. We are too busy and so it is too easy to obtain
pre packed food. Now I do purchase good quality pre made food at times to cover
me on the days when I don’t have any leftovers in the freezer so I am not
saying that people should not do that but I want to help encourage people to
have the confidence to be able to cook a good quality meal even if you only
have 10 minutes to spare.
The winner of this beautiful cookbook is EMILY! Thank you to everyone that entered.