My name is Francesca and I think I can be considered a very late bloomer in the kitchen.
Until a few years ago, my interests and passions lied in anything but food: career, fashion, books, home decorating, flower arranging, traveling around the world and anything else that would satisfy my sense of beauty and aesthetics.
And then one day not very long ago – as it so often happens in life – due to a “force majeure” event, I found myself in front of the stove, in that room of the house that I had utterly ignored up until then!
What to do then? Oh well! I had no idea where to start from, but I knew I had two weapons on my side and I was very determined to make full use of them.
Firstly, I was born and raised in Italy and my country’s culinary tradition is totally unique. Secondly, I come from a very traditional family where every woman and most men had been cooking for all their lives. I suddenly realized my taste buds had been abundantly trained since infancy. The only thing I was lacking was practice (because everyone knows that practice makes perfect). Next thing I know… I was on the phone with my mom talking recipes and culinary skills. Then came culinary education and classes.
I cook every day for my family but I like to experiment and play with food only when inspiration comes. I can get inspiration from anything: a smell, a flavor, a color, a shape, a flower, even a book or a fashion magazine. I love that thrilling chill I feel every time I start picturing a new dish (which usually happens in my bed!) I select and combine the ingredients in my mind way before I do it with my hands and I previsualize the final result, the colors, the taste, even the table setting for my dish and the flowers that go well with it. In the end, I know exactly what I want to make and how it should look like.
My food is very simple and unpretentious. I don’t like overcomplicated recipes or those that call for never-heard of ingredients. 😉
When it comes to food, I’m a purist and a big supporter of traditional dishes executed the way our grandparents used to make them. No need to reinvent the wheel there. For any dish, I use very few ingredients, but I make sure that they are top-notch quality. I’m a huge believer in “less seasoning is more”: I use just enough seasoning to enhance the natural flavors and then let the ingredients speak for themselves.
I don’t think that all food or every ingredient is delicious. I’m very peculiar in terms of what I like and eat (aren’t we all?) but that doesn’t prevent me from cooking dishes I don’t love for my family and friends. I put a lot of effort into making sure that my food looks good as much as it tastes good because it is absolutely true that we eat with our eyes before we do it with our mouth.
When Margot invited me to join her and her fellowship of talented bloggers for this special dinner party project, I was honored and surprised at the same time. I’m not what you would call a social butterfly: I like to keep to myself and meet and talk to people on my terms. So at first I was very undecided whether to participate in this project, but then I thought that every party has its introvert – it wouldn’t be a proper party without one, don’t you think? – and of course that role belonged to me.
These are my hopes and auspices for The Dinner Party Collective project: I hope that you will join our virtual communal table and enjoy what you see on it so much that you will not want to leave. I hope that you will like our recipes, ideas, parings and suggestions so much that you will want to take them to your own table and share them with your family and friends. I hope that hanging out here with us will inspire you so much that, in planning your next dinner party, you will feel the same thrilling chill that I feel when I get the inspiration for a new recipe.
Talk to you very soon!
Francesca (Flora’s Table)