Lesson Number 1:

 Le presento Nonna~

The New Year has started and we are all in a deep freeze. It is time to warm up with a little video of Nonna.

To bring everyone up to speed: Nonna is the grandmother of the family that I lived with in Viterbo, Italy, in 2005 through a university program in Siena (http://www.dantealighieri.com/italian_language_school_viterbo.html). She is the reason why I have written my book (BEYOND THE PASTA: 28 Days of Recipes, Language, and Life with an Italian Family) and I hope it will be published so, at the very least, I can give her a copy. I really do enjoy cooking with her and I am crazy about the entire family.

The video is not very long, nor is it a full cooking lesson. It is a brief clip of Nonna explaining how she was preparing Riso con Cavolo—Rice with Cabbage. Both of us were a little preoccupied while I was shooting this. Nonna’s great-granddaughter was sitting in her highchair at the table, which had been set for lunch. Lillo, Nonna’s son-in-law, had pushed the highchair into the table because he thought we were about to sit down, but then he went upstairs to get something, and I started shooting the video. During the clip you will hear Thais, the baby, in the background and then you will see why we should always keep an eye on her.

Yikes! Thais waving around a steak knive—MAMMA MIA! We had no clue that Lillo had pushed her close enough to the table to be able to lean forward and grab a knive. Luckily, she didn’t hurt herself and Nonna noticed her quickly.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse of what my life was like with the Stefanis for the month of August in 2005. It should be easy to understand what Nonna was saying, even if you don’t understand Italian. There was nothing pretentious about my lessons and I really got to live a truly Italian life. Bellissimo!

 Two more videos of Nonna are coming soon and I will intersperse them with the days of our most recent trip to Italy. Venice is the next city we visited and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Buon Appetito!


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. atippettatippett01-07-2010

    Sadness; I can’t view the video 🙁 Am dying to see what Nona looks like

  2. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-08-2010

    Hmmm, let me see if I can figure out why! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. Mark LeslieMark Leslie01-08-2010

    I am not sure if you are trying to open it from the e-mail your received or tried opening it on the website. I have no problems opening it from the website. Go to mark-leslie.net and try opening it there. It is a YouTube link so it should work. Let me know if it doesn’t. Ciao~

  4. therandomgourmettherandomgourmet01-10-2010

    Too funny!Cheers,Terry and Cynthia

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.