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From Italy to Brighton and back

What I took with me on my first trip abroad as a teenager and what I discovered about English cuisine. Because food is always magic and surprising

Hand luggage, suitcase, backpack: there is always one within reach at my home, ready to be used according to the need and the destination; yes, because travelling is paramount in my life, oxygen for the brain and body.

I have countless memories of my wandering the world, which I return to in my idle moments: my first trip to Rome, my first trip to Japan, or to India or the United States, my first trip by plane or by bicycle… but at the top of them all remains my first trip alone, a feeling that so many years later is capable of bringing an intimate, sweet smile to my face.

The destination? Brighton, like it was customary in my high school days to take a study holiday. Funny how even in that first experience away from home cooking became a great bonding element with my host family!

The host mom to put me at ease the first night told me about her passion for Italy and for spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and lasagne bolognes. One regret was that she didn’t know how to cook them. Was this a problem? Of course not, since cooking was already my main hobby at the age of 15! So, I spent a month of pleasant afternoons between markets, supermarkets and cookers and I must say that my first pupil gave me great satisfaction! 

Yes, but I also learnt something fantastic from her: how to make a savoury breakfast, not one we would enjoy in Italy, but one I literally fell in love with and that continues to be my way of eating breakfast to this day.

Scrambled eggs, or fried – strictly sunny side up for me – bacon, baked beans, roasted tomatoes have become part of my daily menu. And when Anne also told me the secrets of her amazing afternoon tea sandwiches, I was so proud!

Back home, apart from my mum’s shock as for her there is only cappuccino and brioche for breakfast, or at the most an apple pie,  I adapted the English recipes to the taste of my very Italian siblings, with evolutions of egg recipes, ham and fontina toast or focaccia with peanut butter made by me: mum gave up, at least I was the one cooking!

What did everyone agree on, including her? Pizza for breakfast. Anything goes, but the essence of Italianness always wins!

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