Ital­ian mamma

THE PRESS, Christchurch Jo Sea­gar says her new cook­book, is not only beau­ti­ful, but prac­ti­cal and in­spi­ra­tional. She tells KATE FRASER how she came to or­gan­ise a cook­ing school in a vil­lage in Um­bria, about the flu­ency of her Ital­ian and rec­om­mends her r

The Press - Zest - - Food -

You have a cook school in Ox­ford, North Can­ter­bury, so is the Ital­ian Cook School in Eggi, Um­bria, an ex­ten­sion of that busi­ness?

No. It be­gan with my fundrais­ing in­volve­ment with Hospice New Zealand. A busi­ness­man also in­volved in the or­gan­i­sa­tion said to me he and some friends owned this villa in Italy and as a fundraiser for Hospice, maybe I could take a group to Italy and or­gan­ise a cook school in the villa. I didn’t re­ally know Italy. I was more of a Fran­cophile hav­ing stud­ied and cooked in France. But we went, loved the re­gion and the villa. We had an Ital­ian trans­la­tor with us and when we asked about a pos­si­ble tu­tor for a cook­ing school, she said: ‘‘My Mamma is the best cook I know.’’ And that is when it all took shape. The House of Travel puts the trips to­gether, the group lives in the villa, Mamma Fenisia Vit­tori comes out from the vil­lage and she teaches us. I ama New Zealan­der of many gen­er­a­tions, but I know Mamma and I are of the same recipe.

So Mam­mais the tu­tor and you are . . . the stu­dent?

We all get in­volved in La Cucina Italia – the mar­ket­ing, talk­ing to the farm­ers, pre­par­ing the ingredients, and the cook­ing. It is what makes Italy spe­cial, where there is still time to spend all day in the kitchen do­ing things the old way. ‘‘Cook­ing for the men’’, we might say, whereas in Italy, it is ‘‘cook­ing for the fam­ily’’. We work with Mamma’s tra­di­tional ingredients and recipes and I add the bits that say authen­tic doesn’t al­ways mean com­pli­cated.

Are there sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Ital­ian and New Zealand cui­sine?

Ital­ian food is very re­gional. You use what there is. In Um­bria, it is also fru­gal. Noth­ing is wasted. I think Ki­wis get Ital­ian food. I

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