Penne ai quattro formaggi

Written by Margo Sorenson, advocate for Italian language education, and the author of thirty-one books for young readers. Her most recent Adult/YA novel, SECRETS IN TRANSLATION (Fitzroy Books, October 2018), takes place in Positano, Italy with plenty of Italian food being enjoyed!

“Italy is a beautiful country and people are warm and generous, a wonderful place that can be enjoyed in spirit through sharing meals of Italian food with friends and family.”

Margo Sorenson

Why does Italian cuisine have such a magical pull on us? It is ambiance and shared memories. Here in the U.S., rushed meals are such a part of our lives that we don’t often take the time to appreciate enjoying the moment, letting a meal bring back warm memories—an all-encompassing view of food that Italians embrace with enthusiasm.

Who can’t remember a favorite Italian meal? All it takes to call up that memory is the same mouth-watering scent, and we are transported back in time, engaged again by a rush of nostalgia. I recall with clarity the images stirred up of my childhood in Italy by the scent of fresh tomatoes on the vine and of olive oil sizzling in the pan with fragrant red peppers. Close your eyes, reveling in your own heartwarming memories with friends and family intertwined with Italian food.

Experts say the sensory aspects of food are central to an understanding of our lives and experiences. In Giancarlo Iannotta’s award-winning film, “My Country,” when the American-born Italian hero and his Italian-born brother sit down to share a first meal with their extended family in Molise, they renew important connections with their roots in a heartwarming scene that brings smiles and laughter to all. When dining in Italy, we experience the bonding effects of meals taken late, enjoyed at a leisurely pace, promoting conversation and laughter. There is deep truth in the old Italian saying, “Benvenuti: Entri come Amici, Vada come Famiglia,” “Welcome: enter as friends, go as family.”

As we eat Italian meals in conviviality, sharing old memories, creating new ones, let’s savor every bite, making the effort to treasure each moment. Allowing Italian food–its sensory elements and its bonding–to make an impact on our lives can enlarge our horizons. Italy is a beautiful country and people are warm and generous, a wonderful place that can be enjoyed in spirit through sharing meals of Italian food with friends and family. So, as you enjoy your next meal, whether it is Pasta Carbonara or Strozzapreti, or Uova al tartufo, revel in the moment and enjoy the creation of precious memories.