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Tomato Passata sauce, part 1

Tomato Passata sauce, part 2

The proof is in the eating.

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate pasta with Pecans & Caramel



A few days ago I was contacted by a Daily Mail journalist, her name was  Jan and she was calling from  London.  She had this idea to organize a culinary day in my kitchen here in Umbria with myself and a local housewife/ nonna (nana),cooking  8 ITALIAN  recipes  just coming out in a new book by Nigella Lawson, called:  Nigellissima
After  giving some deep thought as to who had plenty of the right experience(family cooking ) to deal with this challenge, the answer came to me in a flash : Mariella!

Mariella is a lovely lady from the Village of Allerona , she has taught me many skills,  how to kill and clean chickens , how to make a traditional pasta dish using only the innards from a chicken , including the hart , gizzard and intestine (yummy ) ,plus other traditional Umbrian dishes . A year ago she also showed me how to find and pick wild cicoria (wild dandiloins) in the green hills of Umbria …Well Mariella was certainly the right woman to cook Nigella’s recipes.

“Do you know anything about  the release of this book ? “Jan asked  me when she arrived “ NO” I replied. “And the lady from the Allerona village does she know anything about it?” “ NO she doesn’t “ “ Do you know about  Nigella ?” “ Yes, of course I’ve  heard about her, but I don’t think Mariella has any idea who Nigella  is!”
So I explain to Mariella that Nigella Lawson is a super sexy Lady , famous in the Uk for her  books and T.V. shows on cooking . At the end of  her programs she  always comes down in her a negligee in the middle of the night to eat the leftovers straight from the fridge ,at this point Nick always starts to look very impressed…..and shouts BRAVA  BRAVA at the TV screen !!!! Nigella is also famous and very popular  for her quick and easy to follow recipes .
So, after placing all the necessary ingredients on my kitchen table, Mariella and I started to analyze what to do and where to start. Cream, butter, lard, chocolate, sugar, liquorice, a huge turkey breast, sausage and then finally something green: beans and radicchio! So our first impression was that at the end of the day we would need an Alka-Seltzer  or even two!



Any way it was a real challenge for us, we started cooking at 10.30am and ended at 4.30pm. In the middle of all the activity we also had to make some homemade chocolate tagliatelle , yes one of the recipes required  pasta made with chocolate , served  with American nuts , butter and sugar and cream …. Mariella and I looked at each other and after a few (private) comments we decided to go ahead and make this pasta even though there was no  recipe for it in Nigellas’ book and because we  couldn’t buy it here. But honestly this was not a problem for us, once you know how to make pasta, even if it’s green from the basil or black from chocolate or coffee…it’s always pasta! In short it is like riding a bicycle, once you learn … keep pedaling. I must say we were all very pleased with the result, but we all preferred  it plain without the nuts etc.etc.etc.


homemade chocolate tagliatelle


smelling of tuna

smelling of tuna


stuffing the turkey

stuffing the turkey




Anyway, the real drama was having to give a verdict on our results of these recipes in that whether  they ALL  tasted like Italian food. Mariella and I  tasted and we brainstormed a rating …. but you can read all about that in the newspaper directly. So follow the link and enjoy Jane article


meatzza, the first bite

meatzza, the first bite



Mariella, the judgement.

Mariella, the judgement.



I must give a big thank you to Mariella for all her help and hard work and also say what a pleasure it was to have met  Jan,  finally I would like to send  my best wishes to  Nigella for every success  with her new book, I am sure it will sell very well.


Nigella Lawson's yellow spaghetti


Nigella Lawson's meatzza


Nigella Lawson's grean beans with pistachio pesto


Nigella Lawson's liquorice pudding


I would also like to thank my husband Nick for doing all the photo’s .You can have a look at his pictures on

3 comments to The proof is in the eating.

  • LindyLouMacinItaly

    Although my husband is the chef in our house, I am still a great fan of cookery books but I do not have any of Nigella Lawson’s on my bookshelves, I wonder why. What fun for you and Mariella to take part in this experiment though. I was not surprised at the results, her recipes are far too rich to be considered traditional Italian I think. Great article in the newspaper, I will link to both on my FB page Simona. Hope you have a great weekend for the vendemmia.

  • Marco

    Thanks God I am not alone! Hi there! This is Marco: italian guy recently moved to Lancashire-UK.
    The article on the Daily Mail was absolutely brilliant and hilarious, not only because of your comments on the recipes, but also because, apparently, somebody has started questioning the authenticity of all that stuff that in this country goes under the name of “italian food”! Finally!
    I will frame the article and keep it handy for any of those times my friends (who apparently think that italian food is strictly consigned to carbonara – possibly with chunks of chicken and lots and lots of double cream – and pizza… and again, chicken wouldn’t hurt on top of all that cheddar cheese)… where was I?… oh yes, for any of those times my friends will say I am too fussy and ticklish about cooking.

    Some things to say in Nigella’s defense, though: in here it’s damn hard to find genuine italian ingredients at the supermarket, so that people try to help themselves with what they can find. Vegetables have such a weak and feeble flavor that even I find myself throwing a whole garlic head into the frying pan! And what can I say about basil?… Well… it’s… green…
    And last but not least: there are hundreds of italian restaurants, in here, where you can’t find even the faintest trace of italian food at all! I recon that this is mainly because they flattened their offer and adapted it to easy stereotypes and cliché. And don’t get me started about those TV people who cook a “pasta puttanesca” at 8:15 am, breaking out a “beLiSSSSSimoooooo!” while I am still on “breakfast-mode”.

    I think that food is culture. UK has a glorious food tradition that is almost unknown abroad and that got almost lost along all those decades of ready meals, tinned soups and fast food (there are people here who have never eaten anything else but fish, chips, and burgers and who couldn’t tell the difference between a courgette and a cucumber). So as culture, food must be taught again, whether it is italian, english or french or jamaican. There are good signs of hope in here, but there is a lot to be done yet. But let’s keep an eye on Italy as well, because bad habits always come a few years later in our country.

    Sorry, I got carried away…

    Again, congratulations on your blog and on you work and thanks you and to Jan Moir too!


  • Cool Culinaria

    Really great – and it’s been followed up by Eater, a very big US based food site:

    Hope you get lots of traffic.

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