Thursday, March 29, 2012

Friends with Books

Having friends who are authors is a new experience for me. It’s really exciting and fills me with a great sense of pride and gratitude. One of my mentors, Chef Mona Talbott, just released a new book called Zuppe. The book houses a collection of some of the most loved soup recipes from her kitchen at the American Academy in Rome.

What a delight it was to attend Mona’s New York City book release! Browsing through the pages filled with enticing colorful photographs of soups for every season, I felt a mix of pride to have cooked with Mona at the Academy and renewed excitement to run into the kitchen and make soup.

Soups and cookies are the topics of the two books that Mona released over the past two years. Zuppe, the book of fabulous soups, is set to release on April 3rd. Biscotti, the book of delightful cookie recipes, came out last year and was co-authored by my other dear friend, Mirella Misenti. Looking through the pages of the biscotti book, and seeing photographs of the familiar hands of my dear Mirella, I was so proud. I even want to go out and buy some essential baking tools that are missing from my home kitchen.

There are no coincidences in life. This concept becomes clearer to me everyday. It’s amazing how I became connected with Mona and Mirella, who share a love for soup and cookies when those are my favorite things to eat and cook too. Talk about the law of attraction!

I acknowledged my love for soup years ago when I met two ladies from North Carolina on a bus. We introduced ourselves and the moment I told them I was a new restaurant line cook, they asked me what was my favorite thing to make. Without hesitation or thought, I replied, “soup”.

My love for cooking at that time was so broad, I had never really thought about what I enjoyed making and eating the most. After I blurted out “soups”, I instantly saw images of the tortilla soup in golden chicken broth that I always loved to make with my mom. The puree of asparagus that I smoothed out with rich coconut milk at my home in Washington, DC was once such a hit that my friends were ready to write me a check to open up a restaurant. I guess when you really love what you are doing, it shows. And that excites people.

I like to bake cookies but I like to eat them even more. These days, when I shop for our weekly groceries, I always pick up one or two varieties of cookies. Of all of the amazing pastries, pies, cakes and frozen desserts that are out there, my favorite sweet treat is a simple chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.

Both Mona and Mirella’s books exude their sophistication and passion for sublimely simple delicious food. I am grateful to have shared the same air with these ladies and to have picked fresh herbs and rolled biscottini dough by their sides.

Brava regazze!

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