For cuisine that’s so well known around the world, it’s always surprising how little so many people outside of Italy know about Italian food beyond pizza and pasta. Pizza and pasta are great, no doubt, but there’s so much more to the cuisine of this diverse nation. In Melbourne, Paola Bacchia (aka Italy on My Mind) is someone we’ve always respected for her genuine love of Italian food, and desire to share her knowledge with the rest of the world be it through recipes or stories.
The daughter of Italian migrants who arrived in Australia in the 1950s from the north east of Italy. Paola grew up learning how food and shared meals could tell the story of her parent’s lives, values, and the places that made them who they are. Her recipes always have a personal connection, and are always about more than just the food itself. When we found out that Paola was releasing a cookbook, we knew we needed to check it out.
Italian Street Food: Recipes from Italy’s hidden bars and laneways, tells you much of what you need to know from the outset. Paola makes an effort to travel to Italy every year, and when she is there she explores what’s happening with food today, how it links to that country’s culinary history and how people express themselves and their culture through food.
Italy has a long history of street food. In the late 1800s for example Naples was an extremely densely populated city and much of the food served in the poor parts of the city were prepared by street vendors. Much of the simple, causal Italian food we know today originated “on the streets”. Hidden behind the town squares of Italy, away from the touristy restaurants, and down back streets are little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes, and these are the dishes that Paola writes about in her book.
There are 85 recipes in the book, that take readers through the daily life of locals who love cooking and eating on the street, and it is through these people that the recipes are shared. Dishes like authentic polpettine, arancini, fiadoni, zeppole, tarallini and cannoli are just a few of what you’ll find in Italian Street Food. Impressively, all of the recipes, food photography, food styling and the majority of the street photography in the book is Paola’s
At The City Lane one of the things that we set out to do is to help people “travel like a local”, and we are strong believers that one of the best way to get to know a city, its people and culture is through food. Grab yourself a copy of Italian Street Food, and you’ll be able to experience a little bit of the local’s life in Italy without leaving your home.
To get you started, here’s one of Paola’s recipes from the book that she’s kindly allowed us to share with you, a recipe for Sarde in Sa’or (Venetian-Style Sweet & Sour Sardines).