I am the grandchild of Margarita and Pio Longhi who came to America in their late teens, early twenties. My grandmother was from Piemonte. She was born literally at the foot of the Alps. By the way, that’s what Piemonte means. She specialized in polenta and bagna cauda. My grandfather was from the Tirol in the Dolomites. He specialized in wine and grappa even or especially during Prohibition. So I come by being an Italophile honestly.
My next huge influence was an Italian aunt who moved in with my family (with my little cousin) when I was in middle school. She hooked me on Italian culture including old movies (La Strada is named for a Fellini movie and means “The Street”.) She enabled me to spend summers during my college years in Vicenza with her brother who is an architect. His wife, Rita, spent lots of time making sure I learned how to cook what we were having for lunch and dinner. They also took me to fabulous restaurants. I came home that first year understanding what great Italian food tasted like. (Thanks Rita and Bruno!)
After college I came to DC and I worked on the Hill for 10 years. During that time, I indulged my love of cooking by starting a catering business with my best friend, Jane. By 1986, I was ready for a big change and I realized that what I always dreamed of doing was moving to Italy to perfect my Italian and just experience life there as a resident. With the help of friends and relatives, I ended up working at an aerospace company in Torino. I was in the region of my Grandmother. Outside of my PR work, I immersed myself in learning about the cooking and ingredients of Italy. I was lucky enough to live in Vicenza, Rome, Torino and Martina Franca (in Puglia where my daughter Alessia was born). This enabled me to learn about the cooking of many regions. There is literally no such thing as “Italian” food because it is made up of many regional dishes.
After several years in Italy, I came back to the DC area. I enjoyed five years of teaching Italian cooking and cooking for local Italian friends.
That brings us to today. I’m getting to fulfill my dream of sharing my love of Italian food and culture with the help of my gorgeous new food truck. I’ll be making yearly trips to Florence to visit my daughter and get lots of new ideas for great dishes. Buon Appetito!