Editor’s Note – Forget what you think you know about British food. This Sunday at 8pm ET “Searching for Italy,” Stanley Tucci explores how Italian immigration has changed the food culture in his adopted hometown of London.
(DailyExpertNews) — Like many Italians living abroad, Peppe Corsaro missed his mother’s cooking.
Born in Sicily, he moved to London when he was 16, and soon began to crave the flavors and traditions of his home – especially the busy Sunday luncheon, when moms and grandmothers cooked timeless favorites for an outdoor marathon party that could easily spill to in the evenings.
After building a career in the hospitality industry, Corsaro was enjoying a night out with friends when someone jokingly suggested that he take his mother to cook.
He took it seriously.
“I said to myself, why not? So I called my mom and I asked her. She said, ‘I’ll be there tomorrow.'”
Mama Emilia makes pasta. Each mother works in the restaurant for about three months.
The premise is simple: real Italian mothers and grandmothers are recruited from one of the 20 Italian regions.
They then move to London for a three-month residency, where they present their own traditional recipes based on their local cuisine, before handing over the chef’s hat to a new brigade of mums from another region.
It’s an interesting setup, as the food in Italy varies wildly depending on geography.
La Mia Mamma recruits real Italian mothers and grandmothers for residencies in London’s restaurants.
While many of the foods typically associated with Italian cuisine – lasagna, tortellini, prosciutto crudo, ragù, parmigiana – all come from the same region, Emilia Romagna, there is an abundance of variety and hidden gems to discover elsewhere, often in places that are off the beaten track for most tourists.
At the time of writing, La Mia Mamma focuses on Campania and Lazio, two adjacent regions of southwestern Italy, where Naples and Rome are located, respectively.
A selection of dishes from Abruzzo, a relatively underrepresented cuisine from a southeastern region on the Adriatic coast.
Lazio’s cuisine has come under the spotlight in recent years, with classics like carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe, a deceptively simple pasta dish, made from just four ingredients, that’s actually one of the most difficult to make due to the delicate process.
But the region’s ‘cucina popolare’ or comfort food also includes lesser-known delicacies such as coda alla vaccinara, an oxtail stew that isn’t easy to find outside of Lazio itself.
Each restaurant has three mamas, which are being featured for the first time in Italy via social media.
“We’re not looking for professional chefs, but housewives who cook for their families,” says Corsaro, adding that the selected candidates will then be flown to London for a trial, after which they will be given lodging, a transport card and a salary. similar to that of a sous chef.
Most moms, who are usually in their 60s and often retired, have never lived abroad.
They all bring their own recipes and make sure they are executed to perfection, with the help of experienced kitchen staff.
Three month residencies
A view of one of the restaurants. Both are based in Chelsea, London.
Their presence is not limited to the menu; the kitchens are visible from the street, so passersby can catch a glimpse of the mamas at work, and they like to mingle with customers.
“You see them everywhere. They’re always around, making people try everything they’ve cooked. They even dance with the guests,” Corsaro says.
So far, no mother has ever been rejected from the trial, and they have all adapted well to London city life, albeit with some adjustments.
Corsaro with his mother Anna Famà, left, the original ‘mamma’ and Mamma Sara.
La Mia Mama
“They always tell me that the city is too big. They are not used to traveling for an hour to get anywhere, so we have to find shelter for them near the restaurants,” says Anna Famà, the mother from Corsaro, and the original mama.
After her stint, she decided to stay and now acts as an ambassador for incoming mommies, helping them settle in.
“It has never happened that a mother left happy to leave, and those who have gone often ask me when they can come back,” says Famà, adding that although cooking for 200 people can be hectic, there is always a relaxed atmosphere reigns in the kitchen. †
“If something goes wrong, we can always fix it,” she says. “For me this is not a job, it is my home. I hope I pass that on to the moms.”