Grandma keeps her cookbooks on a shelf near the fireplace. Less than a dozen books, the same since I can remember. Pellegrino Artusi’s book is the most worn out, her reference book for everything she needs to cook, from carnival fritters to wild boar. In my house there weren’t cookbooks when I was young, just an old fashioned cookery encyclopedia mum collected week after week when she was a newly married woman learning her way through pots and pans. When I was a teenager I started collecting articles and recipes from magazines in a school notebook, keeping a trace of my favourite cakes and pastas.
I learnt to cook looking at mum whipping up a ciambellone on Sunday morning sitting on a high stool with an apron so big it looked like a night gown. I learnt many Tuscan recipes doing my homework at grandma’s kitchen table, growing up in the hearty and unpretentious smell of meat sauce, minestrone and fried cutlets.
I learnt to appreciate Tuscan cooking and traditions through cookbooks, too. I bought my first cookbooks when I started working after university, with those small but highly appreciated monthly salaries, which I would spend equally into perfumery products and books….