the Italian job
Made in Italy Italy’ss Silv Silvia via Colloca is the new queen o of the cucina
SILVIA Colloca is cheekily mocking hipsters and their new- found love of ‘ fad’ foods such as kale and spelt.
The beautiful evangelist for Italian cuisine and SBS television’s newly crowned cooking queen laughs at how her birth country’s “peasant traditions have been gentrified and ‘ hipster- ised’ and all of a sudden they’re fancy and cost a fortune”.
“Everyone is falling in love with kale at the moment, or spelt and it makes me smile because these vegetables, these ancient grains … we’ve enjoyed in Italy for a long, long time,” she says.
She punctuates the conversation with a wry smile and an Italians- doit- better shrug – not cocky but sassy – just one more reason to fall for this talented and straight- talking cook.
As she tells it, her rise as Australia’s answer to Nigella was more accident than grand ambition.
Born out of her boredom during maternity leave with her second son to Rake star Richard Roxburgh, the former model and actor found an instant following for her food blog featuring her Italian family’s recipes.
The cyber success lead to one cookbook, Silvia’s Cucina and now another, Made In Italy with Silvia
Colloca ( Penguin/ Lantern), to sit alongside her first SBS cooking series.
Travelling back to her home country – touring Abruzzo, Molise and Le Marche – earlier this year, was an emotional journey for Colloca, who cooks from the heart, with a side helping of good humour.
“It was really hilarious,” she says. “We invaded the village where my mum is from, called Toricella Peligna, a very small village up in the mountains of Abruzzo. Mum was born there, but then she moved to Milan when she was about 12.
“I got so many people involved, most of my family are in the show including my two kids, my mum, my dad. My dad can’t cook to save his life but I got him to cook in the show, which was fabulous.”
Celebrating her culinary heritage is both a passion and a political statement for the 37- year- old, who is a living testament to the benefits of an authentic Mediterranean diet.
“The way Italian food is often portrayed is that it is over- indulgent and all opulent, creamy sauces but really we leave those dishes to special occasions only. That’s my experience anyway. I lived there until I was 28. You’d have a plate of broccoli and a slice of bread and that was lunch.”
It sounds simple enough, but the dishes served up in this luscious 10part series are anything but basic and should leave gourmets salivating.
Take episode one, where Colloca learns how to make zuppa di cozze ( mussels in white wine broth); uses more wine to create a local speciality, pollo potacchio ( chicken in a pot); visits a 17th century farmhouse to try her hand at cooking olive all’ascolana ( stuffed fried olives); and then shares an old family recipe for maccheroni alla chitarra con fiori di zucca e zafferano ( homemade spaghetti with zucchini blossoms and saffron sauce).
This is one TV show which should come with a warning: when too much is never enough.