Everyone should rush to Lidia’s Italian table
Lidia’s Italy 4.30pm, LifeStyle Food
LIDIA Matticchio Bastianich is no Nigella. She’s no Jamie, either, and there’s not a Gordon tendency in sight. What she is, is the type of woman you’d love to have toiling away in your kitchen, sending out plates of pasta, risotto, bollito misto, the spattered tomato down her shirt a sign of the effort lovingly put into each dish.
In Lidia’s Italy , Bastianich revisits her homeland ( she and her family left northeast Italy for the US when she was just 12), touring its diverse regions, meeting local producers and passing on the secrets of local specialties to the home viewer.
Today her focus is Naples, capital of the Campania region in the southwest. But rather than taking a look at its most famous specialty, for Naples is the spiritual home of pizza, Lidia presents us with three rustic and simple pasta dishes: a quick spaghetti with tomato, garlic and basil sauce; badly cut pasta with pancetta, chilli, celery and tomato; and a vegetarian’s delight comprising cauliflower, squash, tomato, garlic, onion and pepper.
She also visits a local winemaker to educate viewers on some of the best tipples from the region and takes a brief look at another Neapolitan favourite, frittura, or fried street food.
The show is, as some Americanproduced cookery shows can be, a little old-fashioned. The flute strains at the start are a little offputting, as are the mentions of sponsors at the start and end of the program.
But what Bastianich proves is that it’s not necessary to have gimmickry or the most hi-tech, gleaming kitchen ( her’s is cluttered and colourful, cooking utensils shoved into earthenware pots, herbs on the windowsill, no space knowingly left unadorned) to be a compelling, and believable, TV cook.
Bastianich is every inch the Italian grandmother passing on her secrets to younger generations. Watching her whip up these simple yet stunning pastas will surely inspire even the laziest home cooks to nip out and buy some basil.
If one wanted more evidence of Bastianich’s impressive pedigree, her highly successful New York restaurants Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, the former awarded three stars by The New York Times , should be proof enough.
As is the fact she cooked for Pope Benedict XVI last year during his New York visit.
Bastianich’s catchphrase throughout the 26-episode series is ‘‘ Tutti a tavola a mangiare’’ (‘‘ Everyone to the table!’’). After watching a couple of episodes of Lidia’s Italy , this viewer wanted to follow instructions to the letter. Long live the bossy ItalianAmerican mama.
Impressive pedigree: Lidia Bastianich delights in touring her homeland