"Your culture
makes you richer,"

my father used to say

I feel this especially when I cook. I'm surrounded and influenced by generations of past cooks, and they encourage me to keep our recipes faithful to their origin, and to cherish and pass on the joys that our culture gives us.

About Us

"Vicina a tavola non si invecchia mai."
Around the table, no one ever ages.

Do you sometimes recall with fondness the family togetherness of the past? Do you miss the happiness and warmth we enjoyed with family and friends "when we were young," sharing dinners together? Does the lack of these feelings have to do with aging, or more with lifestyle changes? Women have needed to shift from home to paid positions, and children are getting involved in more after-school activities because no one is at home. The evenings are usually rushed because of more commitments. There's no time to cook, and no time for a satisfying family dinner. Sound familiar?

But remember, no matter how busy our lives are…we must eat. Eat not just a snack, but a well-balanced delicious meal that will leave us feeling satisfied and happy.

Elisa and Helen

So, how can we recapture those happy, fulfilling dinner experiences of the past? With the quick recipes of A Taste of Naples, I will help you easily recreate the physical and emotional nourishment we felt from a delicious, well-balanced meal and the love we felt from the person who cooked it for us. Family members may even linger around the table longer! Can you remember when Sunday dinners would last 3-4 hours around the table while eating, talking, sharing and laughing? Young and old, nobody was anxious to leave the table to pursue other activities. This was enjoyment enough! My father used to say "Vicina a tavola, non si invecchia mai." (Around the table, no one ever ages) because time sort of stood still, didn't it?

How A Taste of Naples came about

These old-fashioned, heartwarming values inspired me to create A Taste of Naples to preserve and teach the wonderful Neapolitan (and Southern Italian) dinners and traditions I grew up with. I learned to cook as a child from my Mom who grew up in Naples, Italy. She learned to cook from her Mom in Naples. These 100-year-old recipes are what you might remember your Grandmother cooking. These women had to feed large families with just a few ingredients. How did they do it? In those days, there were no supermarkets for food shopping. Their generous dinners were created from the few available ingredients… vegetables they grew in their gardens, freshly caught seafood (southern Italy is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides) and an occasional chicken dish. As my mother explained about the scarcity of chicken, "Elisa, we needed the chicken to make the eggs. Then when the chicken got too old to make the eggs, then we ate the chicken." So the gathering of food was a matter of availability and survival. Hence the Neapolitan saying "Ogni erba coglia, coglia. Metta sala e oglia e tutt’ e buona a mangia." (Every herb you gather, gather; add salt and oil and they are all good to eat.)

A Taste of Naples' original dishes are quick and easy to cook because the ingredients are simple. They are light, heart-healthy dishes and the basis of the Mediterranean Diet, which has been written about by many medical researchers (see Mediterranean Diet). I've taken these dishes from "a pinch of this and a handful of that" to concise, easy-to-follow written recipes and I have prepared a cookbook of these recipes called "A Taste of Naples." Although the ingredients are simple, the flavor is delicious and natural. You can taste every ingredient because the recipes are well balanced. This is truly southern Italian soul food, without the aid of flavor enhancers and sauce-stretchers like chicken broth. There are many Italian-Americans who remember these dishes but when they order them at a restaurant they are always disappointed because "it doesn't taste like Grandma’s." Well, Grandma didn't cook with chicken broth so her dishes were not as salty or fatty. Grandma's were always so light…so refreshing.

Try a little bit of old Italy through A Taste of Naples, and make time stand still around your table, too.

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A Taste of Naples Cookbook