Lesson Number 2~

Nonna cooks Pollo con Limone~

Recently, I received an e-mail from Alessandra filling me in on all the happenings back in Viterbo. I mailed the Feb House Beautiful with the article on our house (http://www.mark-leslie.net/2010-starts-with-a-bang) to them back in early January and, when I hadn’t heard from them, I sent an e-mail making sure that they had received the magazine.

Of course, they received it and loved the house and article. Alessandra had to translate the interview for Nonna and Lillo, who don’t speak English. Alessandra also reminded me that I hadn’t spoken to them since our visit in November… “Marco, sei un molto cattivo ragazzo—Mark, you are a naughty, naughty boy.” That is how Alessandra scolds me when I fall short of expectations. We both laugh and laugh when she says this, as if I have been caught sneaking a cookie out of the jar.

There are times when I miss being with the Stefanis—their humor, laughter, and good-nature. The video shows how much fun we have together. The first lesson I posted (http://www.mark-leslie.net/lesson-number-1) showed Nonna making the cabbage risotto that was served as the first course before she served the Chicken with Lemon.

In this video clip, she is telling me how she prepared the chicken:

            -Roast the chicken pieces in oil (sunflower oil). Nonna cuts her chicken into small pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and each breast half into 2 pieces— for a grand total of 10 pieces).

            -Add salt.

            -Add white wine and cook until it is almost evaporated.

            -Add water and cook until it evaporates.

            -Add fresh sage.

            -Finish the dish with the juice of 1 lemon, a teaspoon of raw sugar, pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Nonna reminds me that she did not teach me this recipe when I lived with them in 2005, which is true. This was a new one for me. She said it is a recipe from her old house and the name of the dish is “Pollo con salsa piconnoti.” Now, I will admit that I did not understand the last name she said. It sounds like “piconnoti” but it could have been “biconnoti” as well—or some other variation. When I was living with them, I always had Nonna spell out every recipe title for me. I should have done that here, too. She and Lillo got into a discussion of what the name means and, sadly, I can’t understand what they were talking about. Remember, I only speak like a 2-year-old, so plenty still escapes me in everyday conversation.

Lillo and I go on to have a laugh about me having a restaurant with Nonna’s recipes and then we joke about me making a film of her cooking.

As I said earlier, they are great fun and I miss them. I hope you enjoy hearing what life is like when you are a student in a full emersion program (*). At times, it can be daunting, but being served wine with every meal certainly helps take the edge off!

Buon appetito!


(*) Here is the link to the full immersion program that I enrolled in: http://www.dantealighieri.com/italian_language_school_viterbo.html

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. tanyasearletanyasearle02-08-2010

    I love me some Nonna! It’s nice to put a voice and face to the stories.

"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.