‘My work resonates with the purest soul of Italy’ — Eleonora Galasso

Rome, perhaps best-known for its history, culture and iconic architecture, commonly conjures up daydreams of traditional, Italian culinary fare. Food interpreter, writer and author of the soon-to-be-released cookbook As The Romans Do, Eleonora Galasso is a Roman local with an unwavering love for her city’s cuisine. Here, she gives us an insight into her delicious world of Italian food.

Have you always worked in the food industry, or is this a new pursuit for you?

I started off as a radio journalist, and then moved into the written realm as an art reporter. I found that in order to get my first-hand information right, no matter who I was dealing with, there wasn’t any more compelling way than to share a meal with my interviewee. It’s the most primitive ice breaker. As to how I got here … what’s ingrained in my heart is the memory of those fig-soaked summer months at my great grandma’s house, a place on the Apulia coast (the heel of the Italian boot) filled with women whose first and most urgent worry in the morning would always be: what are we going to have for lunch? It wasn’t easy for me to get in the kitchen though, since that was a place I wasn’t allowed to enter as a kid. I guess you can blame that initial curiosity for what I do today!

As the Romans Do

Nonetheless, I did inherit a dusty recipe booklet that has been my best travel companion ever since. During my times in London, Paris, Istanbul, and Sao Paulo, all cities in which I lived outside of Italy, it helped me make new friendships by way of a well prepared meal. Back in Rome about four years ago, I started hosting cooking classes and got a master’s degree in gastronomic culture. While, at night, I would attend a professional cooking school. That’s when I quit art journalism to solely devote myself to the art of #foodhappiness (the hashtag I created on social media).

Tell us about your upcoming recipe book …

I’m incredibly thrilled to launch my first cookbook, As The Romans Do, which will be out in June, published by Octopus.

I spent a couple of glorious months exclusively enjoying the recipe testing and the writing process, taking my time with the words, as it is a beautiful place. Then came photography time, and I had the privilege of enjoying the talent of David Loftus, whose images truly convey the magic of Rome as I see it. Now I cannot wait for the excitement of the book launch!

What are your biggest culinary inspirations?

Those old women one can bump into throughout Italy, with whom through a humble trade  of information (often it’s an account of what’s going on in the digital world followed by a step-by-step how-to from me) will reveal their most cherished recipe. But it’s the way they do it that strikes me most, as if the recipe handed out to me was the most natural thing in the world, like walking or breathing. A world where boundaries end with the walls of their village. And then, next thing you know, they’re on Instagram too!

What’s your favourite dish to cook?

It would definitely be my spaghetti omelette (recipe in my upcoming book), usually made with the leftovers of the day, preferably served on a rainy night, while watching a good movie. As simple as that.

What do you love most about your job?

The research: a place where creativity is limitless. You see, I’m not a chef nor a food critic: rather, I’m a (self-styled) food interpreter. Food, particularly home food, is a language, and like any other language it requires an interpretation linked to the traditions of each place and its food culture. Tracing the origins of Italian gastronomic culture, with its 20 regions and 110 provinces means providing it with the most authentic recognition. There’s so much more to it than just the general assumption of it being pasta and pizza. My work resonates with the purest soul of Italy.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Finding a UK agent that believed in me as an international cookbook author. I’m Italian, and certainly the fact that the English language is not my mother tongue didn’t exactly help endorse my candidature. However, I knew I had an authentic message to deliver and I also knew that, in order to do so, I needed to pass through the UK market, one of the most globally sensitive to all things foodie. 

Any disasters in the kitchen?

That time I forgot to cover my Norma sauce with a lid and it splashed all over the wall. I should have guessed, with such a title, the dish couldn’t possibly not end up in a tragedy.

Eleanora

What are five ingredients every true Italian cook has in their fridge? 

Anchovies in olive oil, capers, taggiasca olives, tomato passata and parmesan cheese!

Can you tell us about your fondest food memory?

Tell me which meatball you make and I’ll tell you who you are. My all-time favorite food would definitely be my great grandma’s meatballs. They are the best I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. Delicious small bites that you can’t help but fall for. You can find the recipe on my blog here, and they will be in my recipe book as well, accompanied by a surprising side.

Your three go-to recipe books?

Definitely Il Cucchiaio d’Argento, the encyclopedia of Italian cooking; Kaiseki by Yoshihiro Murata, a smattering of elegance to navigate you through brainstorming new takes on recipes and, last but not least, The Little Paris Kitchen by the smashing Rachel Khoo. I’m not sure you know who I’m talking about. Also, allow me to add a hilarious must-read: The Man Who Ate Everything by Vogue Food Editor Jeffrey Steingarten.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

Well, of course Sophia Loren, a living legend who embodies and transcends all aspects of Italian culture. And you know what she says: ‘Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.’ And I couldn’t agree more.

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WRITTEN BY:
Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Eleonora Galasso

Find out more

Keep an eye out for Eleonora’s cookbook on her website, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

 

Photo by

David Loftus. Other photos from Eleonora’s Instagram.